Olympic round-up: Day Four

Australia outclassed a hapless South Africa to take top spot in Pool B with a facile 10-0 win, with midfielder Eli Matheson netting a hat-trick. Jamie Dwyer was inspired and they racked up some tidy goals with neat touches and sharper skills in the circle. 5-0 at half-time and another five in the second period give the Kookaburras top spot.

They lead the Netherlands on goal difference. The Dutch nicked a 1-0 win against Great Britain thanks to Taeke Taekema’s late drag-flick but were lucky to get the points as the Brits put up a good fight in a lively encounter.

Ronald Brouwer slid one shot by the post and Jeroen Hertzberger hit the upright but Barry Middleton had some chances and his side could cause the odd surprise.

The defeat was harsh on Jason Lee’s side, who produced a resolute display to frustrate one of the pre-tournament favourites. “It is fairly well established that Holland are one of the best teams in the world and we’re not but we are trying to push that kind of standard,” said the GB coach.

“We tried to play a game based on quality and hard work and if we did that we knew we could make it close – providing we didn’t give corners away.”

Pakistan got their campaign back on track with a good win over Canada. The Asian side started stronger but fell behind when Bindi Kullar netted after Paul Wettlaufer’s shot hit the post and Wayne Fernandes’ shot was saved.

But Pakistan bossed the second half, Muhammad Imran and Shafqat Rasool scoring twice in the opening moments of the half before Muhammad Waqas’ stunner sealed the deal in the 57th minute.

Pool B (points/goal difference): 1. Australia (6, +15), 2. Netherlands (6, +6), 3. GB (3, +1), 4. Pakistan (3, 0), 5. Canada (0, -7), 6. South Africa (0, -15)

Pool A is coming nicely to the boil with world semi-finalists Korea getting back into the mix with an enthralling 5-2 win over China. The hosts went into a 2-0 lead from Yubo Na and Yi Song’s goals but a brilliant Sung Hoon Yoon deflection and a drag from the inspirational Jong Hyun Jang got the sides on terms.

Jang made it 4-2 with two more strikes to complete a hat-trick and Seong Jung Kang flicked past Rifeng Su to complete an exciting win.

Next up, they face a Germany side whose group hopes were dented by their nemesis from the Europeans, Belgium.

Although the teams were evenly matched, Germany had the better of the early chances, with star striker Christopher Zeller hitting both the post and the crossbar with ferocious penalty corner efforts.

They eventually took the lead through Matthias Witthaus reverse to score his first Olympic goal since Sydney 2000. Belgium soon were back on level terms when Cedric Charlier forced the ball into an empty net.

And they almost claimed the game with a penalty corner in the final seconds of the match. It was a fascinating situation, evoking memories of the game in the Bronze medal match at the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championships when Belgium won with the final hit.

However, Germany came out on top in this battle as the drag-flick from Jerome Dekeyser was straight into the pads of Max Max Weinhold, ensuring that the points would be shared.

As a result, Spain are the only side in the group left on maximum points, though they have yet to click fully into gear up front in their first two games against China and, today, against New Zealand.

The game was decided in the last attack of the match. David Alegre launched a shot that was deflected only to land at Santi Freixa’s stick. Freixa spun for the reverse stick shot and despite the large number of New Zealanders between him and goal, the ball somehow slipped in on the final whistle.

Pool A: 1. Spain (6, +3), 2. Germany (4, +3), 3. Korea (3, +1), 4. New Zealand (3, +1), 5. Belgium (1, -2), 6. China (0, -6)

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