Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic round-up: Day Six

Spain’s men are all but through to the last four with their third win on the trot but they were made to work incredibly hard by a spirited Chinese side.

An early exchange of corner goals from Na Yubo and Xavi Ribas made the game 1-1 after the first quarter. The Spanish, though, struggled to create many clear-cut chances while the Chinese threatened on the break a number of times.

In such times, one moment of class usually settles matters and Pol Amat supplied it, breaking through three tackles on the right flank and burying his shot with three minutes left, 2-1.

The race for second place is still tense. New Zealand, powered by Ryan Archibald – whose father, Jeff, won gold in 1976 – hold the advantage following a 4-2 win over Belgium, thanks to goals from Simon Child (2), Gareth Brooks and Shea McAleese.

Germany suffered a second successive setback. Korea led the World Champions twice but Matthias Witthaus and Christopher Zeller scored to give Germany a 3-2 lead. The speedy Koreans, though, equalised through captain Jong Ho Seo to settle a thrilling 3-3 draw.

On Sunday, Germany face a crucial match-up with Spain. If they lose and New Zealand beat China then the Germans will be eliminated while Korea will need a win over Belgium to keep their semi-final hopes alive.

Pool A (points/goal diff): 1. Spain (9, +4), 2. New Zealand (6, +3), 3. Germany (5, +3), 4. Korea (4, +1), 5. Belgium (1, -4), 6. China (0, -7)

In Pool B, Australia secured yet another win but had to fight back from a goal down to defeat Pakistan 3:1. The Greenshirts took a shock lead when Shakeel Abbasi brilliantly touched in a cross from the left wing, but a field goal from Grant Schubert leveled the scores just before half time.

Inevitably, Jamie Dwyer tapped in the all-important second goal before a Travis Brooks deflection completed the scoring to make Australia strong favourites for the semi-finals.

The Dutch stay astride Australia due to a 4:2 win over Canada. An efficient performance built on Taeke Taekema’s flicking expertise – two corners and one stroke – with Roderick Weusthof scoring the fourth from a breakdown of yet another corner.

The only side with a reasonable chance to break the top two is Great Britain who beat the hapless South Africa 2-0. James Tindall scored a beautiful one-handed opener, lobbing the on-rushing keeper before Matt Daly got a late deflection.

GB could put the pressure on with a win over Canada in the fourth round of matches with Australia and the Netherlands playing each other. The final game between GB and Australia could prove a key encounter.

Pakistan face South Africa in a battle for the minor placings.

Pool B: 1. Australia (9, +17), 2. Netherlands (9, +8), 3. Great Britain (6, +3), 4. Pakistan (3, -2), 5. Canada (0, -9), 6. South Africa (0, -17)

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