MELBOURNE: Field hockey powerhouses Australia and the Netherlands played out a scoreless draw to keep open the fight for top spot in Pool B at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne yesterday.
In the day’s other matches, England created history by defeating Germany for the first time at the eight-nation tournament 4-1, while Pakistan looked impressive in downing Belgium 2-0.
India remained unbeaten in Pool A following their 4-2 win over New Zealand in the day’s late game.
The draw means that Australia, the Dutch and Pakistan can all still finish on top of their pool with one more round of matches remaining tomorrow ahead of Thursday’s quarterfinals.
No. 2 ranked Australia will be particularly frustrated with the result given they dominated much of the game, failing to convert numerous penalty corner opportunities against third-rated Dutch.
Having eight penalty corners to only one, Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann proved to be the difference, producing several magnificent saves.
Australian penalty corner specialist Kieran Govers said: “We need to make more of our chances, we are creating them but the goalkeeper had a good game but that is no excuse.
“We still need to put some goals in after the number of circle penetrations we had.”
Stockmann said despite his brilliant game he was disappointed his team didn’t come away with the win.
“Zero goals against is always the goal for a goalkeeper, but it is a team performance and we didn’t win so that is disappointing,” he said.
Earlier England pulled off an upset against the world No. 1 Germans.
It was the first time England had defeated Germany at the Champions Trophy and they controlled the match from the opening whistle, scoring their first goal through Adam Dixon on six minutes.
England continued to press the Olympic champions and scored again through Harry Martin in the 10th minute.
Things improved slightly when Germany pulled one back four minutes later through an own goal, but England regained their two-goal buffer with an own goal two minutes before half time and rounded it off with a fourth goal to Darren Cheesman.
“You have never seen a bad German team. Whatever tournament they go to however experimental it is they are a good team,” England captain Barry Middleton said.
Pakistan made amends for Saturday’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Netherlands by overcoming Belgium.
The result leaves the Belgians as the only winless team in Pool B while Pakistan still have a chance to finish on top of the pool.
After a goalless first half, Pakistan lifted their tempo after half time, and a goal to Abdul Haseem Khan was followed by another from Shafqat Rasool to put the result beyond doubt.
“Yesterday we actually played good hockey but we missed our chances. Today we missed some chances but we managed to score as well, so this is very good experience for our young players,” Shakeel Abbasi said.
India are in the box seat to finish on top of Pool A after defeating New Zealand and will do so if they defeat Germany in their final pool match tomorrow.
After conceding the opening goal from a costly turn over, India dominated the remainder of the first half to take a 3-1 half-time lead.
New Zealand hit back early in the second half with a brilliant goal to Nicholas Wilson, however a goal to Danish Mujtaba in the dying minutes ensured India remained undefeated.
“We aren’t here to be spectators. We want to prove that we deserve to be here and we deserve to be up at the top, and that is where we are heading,” Indian coach Michael Nobbs said.
In Tuesday’s final pool games, New Zealand take on England, Belgium play Netherlands, Germany meet India and Australia face up to Pakistan.