London: World champions Australia outplayed Pakistan 7-0 today to ease their passage into the semifinals of the Olympic Games men`s hockey competition, while the Netherlands also stormed into the last four stage with an all-win record after spiking South Korea 4-2.
The Australian victory dashed Pakistan`s hopes of making the semi-final after 12 years, while the second semi-final spot from the Group A still has two contenders in hosts Great Britain and 2008 Olympic silver medalists Spain, who clash later in the day.
The winner of the Great Britain-Spain encounter will be the other semi-finalist from the group, while a draw will take the home team ahead.
Australia, who was held to two draws in the preliminary league by Argentina and Great Britain, finished with 11 points from five matches and the runaway triumph almost assured them of the top spot in the pool.
Hosts Great Britain can catch up with Australia on points if they beat Spain, but Australia now have a 12 goal advantage over Great Britain on goal-difference and even an injury-hit Spanish side can prove a tough side to outplay by such a huge margin.
Christopher Ciriello scored twice in Australia`s goal fest that left the Pakistan defenders stunned.
Ciriello came into the frame after Liam de Young opened the Australian account with a penalty corner conversion in the second minute and Mark Knowles placed a penalty stroke past Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Shah a minute later.
Ciriello`s two goals came in the space of five minutes, first scoring on a penalty corner in the 29th minute and then firing in a field goal in the 34th to give Australia a 4-0 lead at the interval.
Needing a victory over Australia in their last league outing to make the semi-finals for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Pakistan were never in the hunt today.
Pakistan went to concede three more goals in the second
session as Russell Ford (42nd minute), Jamie Dwyer (48th) and Glenn Turner (70th) made entries in the score sheet.
The Netherlands, who were bronze medalists in the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi, continued their winning spree, but had to ward off a late South Korean charge which brought them within one shot of an equalizer before they conceded the last goal when caution was thrown to the wind.
The Dutch were already assured of a semi-final place, but they went after the victory to storm into the semi-finals with an all-win record, similar to their women`s team which is the defending champion here.
The Netherlands duly took their points tally to 15, but in the process dashed Asia Cup champions South Korea`s hopes of making the semi-finals.
The defeat meant the Koreans were left on six points from five outings while Germany, with nine points from four matches, will take the second place in the group.
The result of the Germany-New Zealand match will not affect the top two positions, but a New Zealand victory can propel them in the pool standings.
Dutch penalty corner striker Mink van der Weerden, who has proved an able replacement for injured corner ace Taeke Taekema, opened the account with a rasping drag-flick into the top corner of the goal in the 17th minute.
Valentin Verga slammed the board with a firm shot from the top of the box in the 26th minute and Roderick Weusthof converted a penalty stroke that was awarded when a defender blocked him inside the striking circle in the 47th minute.
South Korea retaliated strongly and Nam Hyun Woo began their rally with a penalty corner conversion in the 53rd minute, but a minute later he was carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
Lee Nam Yong then proved his mettle with another stinging penalty corner shot that made it 2-3 in the 62nd minute.
Going all out for an equaliser, the Koreans suffered from a counter-attack two minutes later as Billy Bakker found himself in front of a unmanned goal in the 64th minute and duly placed the ball inside.