Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic Round-up: Australian women knocked out

Only one place to start with in the round-up today. With both pools drawing to a close, pre-tournament favourites Argentina and Australia were both threatened with elimination and the latter suffered that ignominious fate in the final game of the day.

China needed just a draw to secure qualification to the semis on goal difference but went 2-0 from a pair of Hong Xia Li goals to lead early in the second half.

With their backs against the wall, the Hockeyroos pressed hard to fire in a corner from Casey Eastham and a Sarah Young field goal. It left them with eight minutes to sink a qualifying goal but they were unable to force the ball home as the hosts completed a major shock in front of a massive home crowd.

Already qualified Holland put together a functional performance to beat Spain 2-0 with Maartje Paumen nailing her eighth corner of the tournament to become the equal top goalscorer in an Olympic women’s tournament. She joins Alyson Annan (AUS), Lisanne Lejeune (NED), Beth Anders (USA) and Eun Jung Chang (KOR) on that ,mark with two games still to play.

Marlilyn Agliotti missed a few chances but Ellen Hoog’s bouncing effort sealed the win with two minutes left.

Korea, meanwhile, avoided the wooden spoon. They took a 4-0 half-time lead over South Africa before being pegged back as Kate Hector and Vida Ryan got the African side’s first goals of the competition but lost 5-2 in the end.

Pool A final standings: 1. Netherlands (15 points, +11) 2. China (10, +10), 3. Australia (10, +8), 4. Spain (6, -8), 5. Korea (3, -5), 6. South Africa (0, -16)

Germany and Argentina completed their qualification for the semi-finals. The Germans were the first to confirm their place with a 1-0 win over Japan after a tight battle. World young player of the year, Maike Stoeckel set up the only goal of the game, taking a free hit swiftly for Janine Beermann to get a touch on which looped up over the hapless keeper.

In a game of few chances, they held onto the win and top spot in the table and will now face China on Wednesday.

Great Britain were next up, needing a win over USA to put the pressure on Argentina for second place in the group. They did not fulfill their end of the bargain in a game that inexplicably stayed scoreless despite a litany of goalmouth action.In the first half, the USA had clear advantages, including seven penalty corners and plenty of goal-line scrambles, including hitting the inside of the post and an agonising roll along the goal-line.GB had their chances too in the final five minutes but found Amy Tran unbeatable between the sticks.

The pressure was off Argentina as they faced New Zealand needing to avoid defeat by seven goals to progress.

An easy enough task, especially against a team that was still without points in the competition and Las Leonas confirmed that assumption with an early goal from Carla Rebecchi who made good use of a Marine Russo pass.

But they seemed intent to turn that logic on its head with a patchy performance and Niniwa Roberts deflected in for a 1-1 tie at the break.

It appeared to wake up the Argentinians and a double-strike from Soledad Garcia and Marine Russo in three minutes made it 3-1 – Garcia’s a spectacular reverse effort. Lizzie Igasan pulled one back but they could not get the equalizer and were condemned to their fifth defeat – four of which have been by just one goal.

Pool B final standings: 1. Germany (12, +4), 2. Argentina (11, +4), 3. Great Britain (8, -2), 4. USA (6, +1), 5. Japan (4, -2), 6. New Zealand (0, -7)

* It leaves the playoff matches for the medals and world ranking points as follows:

Wednesday, August 20 (all Irish time)
9/10 place play-off (1.30am) Korea vs Japan
7/8 place play-off (4am) Spain vs USA
Semi-final (11am) Germany vs China
Semi-final (1.30pm) Netherlands vs Argentina

Friday, August 22
11/12 place play-off (1.30am) South Africa vs New Zealand
5/6 place play-off (4am) Australia vs Great Britain
Bronze medal match: (11am)
Gold medal match (1.30pm)

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