Raipur: Defending champions Netherlands had to toil hard to register a 2-0 win over a fighting Canada in the first quarterfinal of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium here today.
It was expected to be an easy outing for the world number two Netherlands against a lowly Canada (ranked 14th) but the Dutchman were made to wok hard as Canada, who lost all their three matches in Pool A, produced an inspired performance to frustrate their opponents for the first 25 minutes of the match.
The way they were playing today, it never looked like Canada were 12 places below Netherlands in the world rankings as the Dutchman found it hard to break their opponents' defence for major part of the match.
After a barren but competitive first quarter, it was Canada who earned the first penalty corner of the match in the 20th minute. The resultant try was saved by Netherlands custodian Pirmin Blaak and the follow up rebound was shot over the goal by Canadian skipper Scott Tupper.
After battling hard for most part of the opening half, Netherlands finally tasted success in the 25th minute when the Canadian backline conceded a soft goal.
The goal was set up by Valentin Verga who dribbled past a host of Canadian defenders to pass it to Constantijn Jonker who just had to tap the ball in to give Netherlands the lead.
After the change of ends, Netherlands secured their two penalty corners in the first 10 minutes of the second half but wasted both as the Canadian defence stood tall to thwart the attempts.
Canada did not sit back and exerted pressure on the Dutch defence with purpose.
Mark Pearson came very close to ensure the equaliser for Canada soon with a solo run from outside the circle but his shot from the top of box was saved by an alert Blaak in Netherlands goal.
The fourth and final quarter too witnessed a tough fight but again Canada conceded another soft goal when Roel Bovendeert scored from a field effort in the 56th minute to hand over the match to Netherlands.