Germany and the Netherlands both summon five-star performances
Belgium vs Korea 2-1 (0-0 half-time)
Cedric Charlier’s sparkling goal handed Belgium their first win of the Olympic Games Pool B, putting a major dampener on Korea’s hopes of reaching the final four. It came in the final quarter after Hyun Woo Nam’s penalty corner had cancelled out Tom Boon’s opener 90 seconds into the second half.
Plenty of late drama ensued as three yellow cards were dished out in the final minute and Vincent Vanasch was forced to save a series of shots in a final flurry of action. Holding on for the win, it pushes Belgium up to fourth in the standings with New Zealand and India to play. Jerome Dekeyser produced the highlight of the first half with a rasping strike that crashed against the inside of the post, agonisingly rebounding across the face of goal in the sixth minute.
It was a half that promised much but goalmouth chances were at a premium. The second half was those come in abundance, the first ballooning Tom Boon’s way from a crash ball and he swung out a volley that delicately wrong-footed Myung Ho Lee from a tight angle. Nam levelled with a low corner drive but his side will rue their inability to capitalise further from their volume of corners in the latter stages. Number one Jerome Truyens blocked one spectacularly while a couple went off target to keep Belgium on terms.
Alexandre de Saedeleer did similarly well to pressurise Kang Moon Kweon who somehow manages to screw a close range shot wide in the 56thminute. It proved a huge let-off as, soon after, Charlier scored the goal which had the Belgian fans singing down the Olympic walkway. He had already beaten a couple of defenders before his shimmy wrong-footed another couple, finding the space to roof a sweep-shot on the dive over Myung Ho Lee’s shoulder.
They had to live on their wits for the closing ten minutes as Jeffrey Thys, Xavier Reckinger and Nam Yong Lee all saw yellow while Oh Dae Keun – on his 100th cap – and Cha Jong Bok drew saves from Vanasch for a big win for the lowlanders.
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Germany vs. India: 5-2 (half-time: 4-1)
Germany overwhelmed India to cruise to a comfortable 5-2 win.
They were immediately threatening and PR Sreejesh, in the Indian goal today, was called into action in the opening minute. Both teams seemed inspired and willing to play attacking hockey, and India had a good chance when SV Sunil ran the whole length of the pitch and delivered a perfect cross that just eluded Shivendra Singh in front of the German goal.
Florian Fuchs drew first blood in the 8th minute when he pounced on a loose ball in the circle, turn swiftly and beat PR Sreejesh from close range. Sandeep Singh had a chance on penalty-corner soon after but his low flick was well handled by Max Weinhold in the German goal. Germany managed to keep the fast Indian attackers at bay until the 13th minute, when a penalty-corner taken by VR Raghunath cleanly beat Weinhold. The German response was immediate and they re-established their lead, once again by Florian Fuchs, coolly batting in goal a high rebound from the Indian goalkeeper.
Germany took control of play, circulating the ball around the Indians in midfield, and PR Sreejesh needed to stand tall, but he could not prevent a third goal by Oliver Korn, lodging the ball in the roof of the net from a narrow angle. The Indians seemed deflated by this additional goal, as well as overwhelmed by the constant pressure applied by Germany on their midfield, and Germany scored a fourth goal before half-time by Christopher Wesley, putting the fate of the match somewhat out of doubt.
Florian Fuchs completed his hat-trick in the first minute of second period and things were starting to look seriously bleak for India. They had a chance on penalty-corner but Max Weinhold once again read well the flick by Sandeep Singh, not looking at his best since the beginning of the competition. India had a good reaction mid-way through the period but could not increase their tally, even on another penalty-corner, weakly executed.
India scored a second goal by Tushar Khandker and seemed to wake up in the final minutes, but it was too little too late and Germany controlled the end of the match, cruising to a comfortable win (5-2), their third win in so many matches, to join The Netherlands at the top of Pool B, leaving India still pointless in the competition.
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Netherlands vs. New Zealand: 5-1 (half-time: 3-1)
New Zealand surprised the Dutch with an early Simon Child goal, but The Netherlands replied with five unanswered goals to stay on top on Pool B with their third win in so many matches.
New Zealand started with a bang, Simon Child opening the scoring within 5 minutes of play to give an early lead to the Kiwis. Sander De Wijn thought that he had equalized in the next play when he deflected in goal a Teun De Nooijer shot that was going wide, but the video-referral showed that he had played the ball with a high stick and the goal was denied.
On a penalty-corner earned by Robbert Kemperman in the 15th minute after a long run through defenders, Roderick Weusthof’s flick was well saved by Kyle Pontifex in goal for New Zealand but a stroke was given on the play and Weusthof did not miss his second chance to tie the score at 1-1.
Play was fast and physical between these two athletic teams, and Billy Bakker earned another penalty-stroke, this time converted by Mink Van Der Weerden to put The Netherlands back on top. The Dutch deepened the gap soon after by Billy Bakker, on hand to deflect in goal a shot by Rogier Hofman who had just run 50 meters with defenders on his heels. The Netherlands had another chance to score on a last second penalty-corner, but the wild goalmouth scramble was finally cleared and the score stayed at 3-1 for The Netherlands going into the break.
New Zealand were again fast of the block in second period and had a chance by Stephen Jenness, but Jaap Stockmann in the Dutch goal was ready for his sudden shot. Play became more structured, with each team enjoying longer periods of ball possession to develop their attacks and produce exciting end to end hockey. Jenness had another golden opportunity when he received a cross from Simon Child alone in front of the keeper but he could not adjust his reverse stick shot.
Billy Bakker did not waste the next chance at the other end when he received a deep ball at full speed to score his second goal of the match, establishing a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead for The Netherland. Robbert Kemperman added a fifth and final goal and The Netherlands rolled in to their third win in so many matches to stay on top of pool B.
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