India thrash Poland 7-0 in Champions Challenge hockey

Johannesburg: Tushar Khandekar and Yuvraj Walmiki scored two goals each as India spanked Poland 7-0 to enhance their chances of finishing on top of group A in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament, on Tuesday.

Finishing with seven points from three matches, India now await the result of the Belgium-South Africa match to know if they finish on top the group.

The Pool A toppers will take on Malaysia in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Belgium and India both had four points each before the last round of group matches, but Belgium enjoyed a one-goal edge in goal difference to lead the pool standings ahead of Tuesday`s games.

India enjoyed complete domination against Poland, who have lost all their three preliminary league matches with huge margins.

To start with, India had a narrow shave in the 11th minute when Polish captain Dariusz Rachwalski`s deflection on a penalty corner went just wide with he defenders beaten.

Walmiki opened the scoring in the 19th minute when he deflected Manjeet Kulu`s long diagonal shot past the goalkeeper.

Shivendra Singh then capitalised on a Danish Mujtaba pass for India`s second goal in the 23th minute.

At the other end, Poland were unlucky not to have scored two minutes later when Tomasz Gorny`s firm shot hit the post after beating the goalkeeper.

Walmiki`s opportunistic 33rd-minute strike produced his second goal to give India a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Manpreet Singh capitalised on SV Sunil`s pass in the 44th minute to continue the scoring spree in the second session.

Birender Lakra slammed in a reverse drive in the 53rd minute before Khandekar scored a brace in the 55th and 70th minutes.

Earlier, in Pool B action, Pedro Ibarra and Agustin Alejandro Mazzilli scored two goals each as Pan-American champions Argentina bounced back from a half-time deficit to outplay Malaysia 5-2 and top the group.

Argentina finished with seven points through two wins and a draw.

Japan pulled off a surprise 2-1 victory over Canada to take the second spot in the four-team group, with five points from a victory and two drawn matches.

Canada had three points from the win over Malaysia, who just secured a single point from the draw against Japan .

Malaysia enjoyed a 1-0 lead at half-time, opening the scoring through Azlan Misron?s firm reverse drive past a crowded defence.

Argentina equalised in the 44th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Ibarra. Then came three goals in the space of eight minutes that put Argentina firmly in control against the hard-working Malaysians.

Mazzilli capitalised on a penalty corner in the 51st minute and fired in a field goal in the 58th, while Rodrigo Nicolas Vila scored in field play in the 52nd.

Malaysia pulled one back in the 64th minute through Amin Rahim`s penalty corner shot, but conceded a last minute goal when Ibarra drove the ball home in the last raid of the game.

Canada took the initial lead against Japan in the third minute through Iain Smythe, and Japan equalised five minutes before half-time on a penalty stroke conversion by Koji Kayukawa.

A breakaway goal from Hiroki Sakamoto in the 41st minute clinched Japan victory in the well-contested encounter.


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