Australia in Champions Trophy final
Auckland: Australia powered into the final of the Champions Trophy on Thursday, with Spain defeating New Zealand in the championship pool to keep alive their chances of meeting the Australians.
The Kookaburras lived up to their world number one ranking, firing home three second-half goals to defeat the Netherlands 4-2 in Pool C and earn the right to chase a record fourth straight title in Sunday`s final.
In Pool D, Pakistan came from behind to thump South Korea 6-2.
Dutch captain Taeke Taekema said the Netherlands threw everything at the Kookaburras, the dominant force in men`s hockey, but had no answer to Australia`s attacking prowess.
"They punished our mistakes and when you play a running game like that against Australia you know you`re going to struggle," he said.
Spain edged past hosts New Zealand 3-2 to take pole position in the race to meet Australia in the final, thanks to a David Alegre goal four minutes from time.
The victory leaves Spain in a strong position ahead of the final round of Pool C matches, but are still likely to need a win against The Netherlands on Saturday if they are to book their place in Sunday`s final.
After the competition`s opening rounds, the tournament splits into two four-nation groups. The top group, Pool C, contests the medal placings, while Pool D determines positions five to eight.
However, both the Netherlands and New Zealand could pip Spain and make the final, depending on the outcome of the last round of pool games this weekend.
In Pool D, Pakistan, who are out of medal contention, ended a three-game losing streak in Auckland, with captain Muhammad Imran and Abdul Khan both notching a brace.
Imran proved the inspiration for a Pakistan fightback after Lee Nam-Yong`s seventh minute goal gave Korea the lead, with the skipper converting a penalty corner after 15 minutes to put the Green Shirts on the board.
Khan followed up with a field goal one minute later and from there Pakistan looked assured, holding their nerve when Korea equalised and sealing the win with a four-goal burst in the final 10 minutes.
The win keeps alive Pakistan`s hopes of securing fifth place in the eight-nation event, which would guarantee a spot at next year`s competition in Argentina.
In the other Pool D match Germany overcame Britain 2-1, thanks to a last-minute penalty conversion from captain Jan-Marco Montag.
Britain, playing to restore some pride after an 8-1 mauling from Spain on Tuesday, began nervously, conceding a goal to Martin Zwicker after four minutes.
Glenn Kirkham put Britain on level terms mid-way through the first half and the German defence came under intense pressure after the break.
But Germany finished stronger and were awarded two penalty corners in the final minute, the second of which Montag flicked into the net over the top of British keeper James Fair.