Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic round-up: Day One

On a hectic opening day, all 12 entrants got underway with the Japanese women kicking off the Olympic campaign with a 2-1 over New Zealand, followed by wins for China, Australia, Holland and Germany while Argentina and the USA drew on an all-action day.

The fifth-ranked Japanese women defeated 8th-ranked New Zealand, protecting a 2-1 halftime lead. Sakae Morimoto scooped the ball past Beth Jurgeleit to give Japan the lead against the run of play. Interestingly, Sakae Morimoto was also the player to score Japan’s first goal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

A superb penalty-corner variation saw Toshie Tsukui dive to deflect over Jurgeleit. Jaimee Claxton pulled one back by the break but, despite second half pressure, cousl not force an equaliser.

Next up, China outclassed Spain 3- 0 thanks to field goals from Baorong Fu, Hongxia Li and Lihua Gao, although it could easily have been many more in a strong statement of intent.

The lack of drama in that game was followed by one of the most dramatic comebacks in memory with Australia overturning a 4-1 half-time deficit to conquer Korea 5-4.

A brilliant Mi Seon Kim goal, finishing off a long solo run with a diagonal ball past Rachel Imison, opened the floodgates. Australia quickly replied through Shelly Liddelow but then lost concentration and could not avoid Korea going off on a scoring spree, putting away three goals in the last eight minutes of the first half for a 4:1 half-time lead.

The second-half was pure fantasy, though. Captain Nikki Hudson led the way for the Hockeyroos with a reverse stick goal 12 minutes into the second half, followed by Liddelow’s second and the equalizer from Sarah Young.

Jung Hee Kim finally became the one to tragically decide the match as she deflected a ball from Casey Eastham that was parallel to the goal line unluckily straight into the goal, out of reach for the Korean goalkeeper.

Argentina were held by the USA despite having numerous opportunities to establish a comfortable lead. They had a flying start and were two up after 11 minutes - both scored by Carla Rebecchi With rain starting to fall heavily, the pace slowed down and the Argentinean play became tentative.

The USA grabbed the chance and scored in the 18th minute with a well executed penalty-corner deflected by Keli SMITH before sucking up 17 shots on goals and 12 penalty-corners but were consistently denied by Amy Tran.

The USA were twice reduced to ten players but fought hard to stay in contention, stunning the Argentinean defense in the 64th minute with a quick free-hit that found Angela Loy alone in front the goal and she didn’t waste this chance to tie the game.

The current World Champions, the Netherlands had a comfortable win over South Africa which the Oranjes controlled the encounter from start to finish.
An early Eefke Mulder goal got the Dutch going before former South African player Marilyn Agliotti - who represented SA in the 2000 Olympic Games - doubled the lead.

Further goals from Maartje Paumen (2), Minke Booij and Wieke Dijkstra sealed an easy win.

Germany had an equallt easy win, taking the lead in the 26th minute, through Fanny Rinne. Crista Cullen’s deflected effort levelled but a quick response from Eileen Hoffmann opened the gates. Her second made it 3-1 before strikes from Rinne and Marion Rodewald added gloss.

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