Jackson rescues English point; Australia cruise to second big win
Pakistan vs Argentina 2-0 (1-0 half-time)
The raw power of Muhammad Imran and Sohail Abbas’ drag-flicks saw Pakistan pick up their first win of the Olympics, condemning Argentina to a second successive defeat. They fired home a corner in each half to see off the South American side who took their time to find any sort of rhythm and now prop up the group after two rounds of games.
With both teams setting up half-court, it meant that, despite a decent tempo, there was little goalmouth action to go around. Rehan Butt’s halfway line steal led to the first shot in anger in the 21st minute, drifting a bit too far left to leave a tough angle to truly test Juan Manuel Vivaldi. The lead was forged when Muhammad Waqas raced clear and was tripped with the circle nearing and – with Sohail Abbas on the sideline – Muhammad Imran dragged home despite Manuel Brunet’s desperate efforts.
The second half proved more open as Lucas Vila finally got in a first shot in anger in the 42nd minute, a rising drive from on his knees. But the margin was doubled when Pedro Ibarra petulantly cleared over his own endline. Sohail Abbas’ first effort from the resulting corner was brilliantly saved by Gonzalo Peillat but went dangerous offering the world’s greatest marksman another chance. He duly obliged with his 346thinternational goal.
From there, Argentina raised the tempo but the best they could do was to rattle the crossbar when Agustin Mazilli latched onto a corner rebound, pumping the ball into the ground so powerfully it rose up and hit the metalwork. Lucas Vila deflected Matias Paredes pass inches wide while another trio of corners went unconverted to see Pakistan home without too much fuss.
They now face a potentially huge game against hosts Great Britain, both sides currently tied on four points after two games while Argentina face Australia needing a win to keep alive their semi-final hopes.
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South Africa vs Great Britain 2-2 (0-1 half-time)
Great Britain and South Africa’s closing ten minutes ran the gamut of emotions, providing enough entertainment to make up from an otherwise scrappy encounter to leave honours even. Ashley Jackson’s first half goal had the hosts ahead for much of the game but a response from Austin Smith and Johnny Robinson’s cracking low drive in the closing stages almost pulled off the biggest shock of the men’s competition to date. But a controversial late goal, credited to Jackson, brought the game back to 2-2 after a pulsating close.
Jackson provided the highlights of a low-key first half, his most notable contribution an excellent rising drag-flick into the roof of the net. He won the 14th minute corner himself with a piercing drive into the circle and he had Britain’s two other shots of note. The first he aerialled over, the other was a drag-flick, which Rassie Pieterse did well to palm away. For South Africa’s part, Thornton McDade nipped in to steal from Ben Hawes’ miscontrol but he was unable to find a route to goal with seconds left on the clock before the interval.
For the most part, Britain could not find the flow that marked their opening win over Argentina as the Africans played a compact game that shrivelled the space available. They began to show more intent as time wore on and, from their only corner while Jonty Clarke was in the sin bin, Smith stepped up to make it a real contest. Robinson bullied his way into space from the left edge for a thunderous lead goal, putting the raucous Riverbank crowd on tenterhooks.
British attacks became fraught and the South African defence desperate as they attempted to withstand a barrage. This stepped over with the replacement of James Fair for an extra outfield player and it paid dividends within seconds. Richard Smith’s angled ball into the mixer took a couple of deflections, one which Roel van Eert saw coming from Jackson’s stick. It certainly also hit a South African foot. They argued it hit Jackson’s back stick but the umpire’s referral showed nothing conclusive to rule out the goal.
And they might have won it with a final second penalty corner but Pieterse did well to block Jackson’s hat-trick bid. It provided a thrilling end to Barry Middleton’s 100th game in a British jersey as his side stay second in the group rankings while South Africa have their first point of the competition.
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Spain v. Australia 0-5 (half-time 0-3)
Australia continues to live up to its billing as the big favorite of the men’s tournament. The current World #1 had no problems dispatching Spain today in a 5-0 decision.
Russell Ford opened the scoring 10 minutes into action when he scooped up his own rebound and popped the ball past Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes. Less than five minutes later Matthew Butturini doubled the lead when Ford threaded a pass through the Spanish defense for the easy marker.
The news got worse for Spain when Pol Amat was led off the field mid-half with an apparent shoulder injury after falling over an Australian player. Spain was already without the services of Santiago Freixa, who is out for the rest of the tournament with a broken arm.
Australia continued to show no weakness in the second half as Glenn Turner promptly put in the 4-0 goal less than five minutes after the break to make it 4-0. In the final two minutes captain Edward Ockenden put the icing on the cake with the 5-0, top shelf, penalty corner goal. There was little hope for the Spaniards in the second half with both the big deficit and an Australian team that was firing on all pistons. That Spain limited Australia to just two goals in the second half was a moral victory as the damage could have been much worse.
Australia now has an impressive 11 goals in its first two outings and sits atop the Group A standings with six points. The outlook is not as bright for Spain, which has one point in its first two games and may now be without the service of yet another one of its key players depending on the severity of Amat’s injury.
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