Cirello`s goal guides Australia to sixth Azlan Shah Cup win

Ipoh (Malaysia): Dragflicker Christopher Ciriello scored a golden goal from a penalty corner as World champions Australia clinched their sixth Azlan Shah Cup hockey title beating Pakistan on Sunday.

Ciriello`s drag-flick in the 13th minute of extra period went into the roof of the goal post to give Australia a 3-2 victory over Pakistan in the summit clash.

The two teams were tied 2-2 at the end of regulation period, with Australian goals coming from Ciriello (11th minute) and Glenn Turner (44th) and Pakistan scoring through Sohail Abbas (31st) and Rehan Butt (62nd).

Australia have now won the Azlan Shah Cup six times, overtaking India`s record of five titles.

The Azlan Shah Cup was the only title Australia did not win in 2010, when they became the first team to win the World Cup, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games in one year.

Australia last won the title here in 2007, while three-time champions Pakistan last climbed atop the podium in 2003.

Australia today took an early lead when Ciriello sent a drag-flick along the ground into the right corner of the post even before Pakistan could get a good look at the rival goal.

Stung by the reverse, Pakistan went into the overdrive, spelling danger to the rival citadel on two occasions in open play and forcing two penalty corners.

The second penalty corner produced the equaliser for Pakistan when Waseem Ahmed squared the ball, just as an Australian runner charged out, and ace shooter Sohail Abbas sent a reflex drag-flick into the net.

Australia were in front again nine minutes into the second half as Turner capitalised on the space Pakistan`s defence gave him inside the scoring zone.

Picking up a diagonal pass in the circle, Turner turned around and beat the hapless goalkeeper with a firm drive.

Going all out in the hunt for goal to draw level for the second time, Pakistan saw Umar Butta failing to trap Fareed Ahmed`s cross from left in the 50th minute.

The pressure produced result in the 62nd minute when Butt lunged forward to flick the ball in after the defenders failed to trap a long-range shot cleanly.

With scores level on 2-2, the match went into extra time, where Australia forced three penalty corners and got the title-winning goal when Ciriello`s rasping shot hit the cross-piece and went in.

Britain took the bronze medal with a 4-2 victory over New Zealand, who opened the scoring and led until the 34th minute before the British strikers ran over their defence in the second session.

New Zealand made early inroads into rival territory, earning the first penalty corner in the fourth minute.

Andrew Hayward sent the flick into the net, but the umpire ordered a re-take and British goalkeeper Nicholas Brothers brought off a save this time.

Britain wasted two penalty corners before New Zealand opened the scoring in the 20th minute as Hayward`s shot was deflected in Stephen Jenness, the pusher who had moved in for the shot.

Richard Mantell drew parity for Britain one minute before the low penalty corner shot when the ball went through the goalkeeper`s pads.

Robert Moore (51st minute) gave Britain the lead in the 51st minute with a fine field goal.

Richard Smith placed a 59th-minute penalty corner shot into the boards and Mathew Daly tapped in a square pass to make it 4-1 in the 65th minute.

Blair Hilton reduced the margin for New Zealand with a deflection on a through ball in the 69th minute.


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