World Hockey League Semifinal: Britain spike Pakistan's semifinals hopes; Aussies advance
Great Britain boosted their chances of making the 2016 Olympic grade as they defeated Pakistan 2-1 in the quarterfinal of the Hockey World League Semifinals, here on Wednesday.
Antwerp, Belgium: Great Britain boosted their chances of making the 2016 Olympic grade as they defeated Pakistan 2-1 in the quarterfinal of the Hockey World League Semifinals, here on Wednesday.
Two early field goals from Chris Griffiths (4th minute) and Alastair Brogdon (9th) placed Great Britain in control and Pakistan could only pull one back through Umar Bhutta (52nd) in a touch second half.
With this victory, Great Britain secured a spot in the World League Finals, to be played in India later this year, and also boosted their prospects of earning one of the three Olympic qualification spots available at this tournament.
In the semifinal on Friday, Great Britain will meet World Cup gold medallists Australia, who today posted a 4-1 victory over Ireland in another quarterfinal.
Matt Gohdes capitalised on a penalty corner rebound to open Australia's scoring in the 22nd minute, but the Irish defended well to then thwart them until Jamie Dwyer scored in open field play in the 45th minute.
Simon Orchard and Blake Govers scored for Australia as two goals came in the 55th minute before Ireland pulled one back through Shane O'Donoghue in the 57th.
The loss to Great Britain has pushed three-time Olympic champions Pakistan on the brink, but a strong finish in the playoffs for the fifth to eight spots could still secure them a place in the Olympic Games lineup.
Dual qualification by some of the continental champions could allow even teams that fail to make the semifinals here to qualify for Rio de Janeiro.
It was Great Britain that knocked India out of the 2008 Olympic Games lineup with a runaway victory in the final of a qualifying tournament. That was the only time eight-time gold medallists India failed to feature in the men's Olympic hockey event.
Great Britain took a strong grip on the game with two goals in the initial nine minutes and never allowed Pakistan to bounce back into the contest.
Griffiths scored a brilliant goal to but Great Britain in the lead in the fourth minute of play. Griffiths he seized a long ball from Iain Lewers inside the circle on the left and beat goalkeeper Imran Butt with a rising reverse hit that ended in the top-right corner of the goal.
Five minutes later, Great Britain were two goals ahead as Brogdon deflected in Ashley Jackson's reverse shot from left into the boards, leaving Pakistan stunned.
Both teams wasted two penalty corners each and Great Britain went into the second half with a two-goal lead. Pakistan were not able to have a good crack at the goal as Great Britain stoutly defended their position, but Umar Bhutta reduced the lead for Pakistan by flicking in the ball from goalkeeper George Pinner's pads after he had blocked a cross from the left.
Pakistan's desperate attacks in looking for another goal saw them break into the circle on a few occasions, but the equaliser eluded them.