Spain to face Australia in Champions Trophy final

Auckland: Spain defeated the Netherlands 3-1 on Saturday to set up a hockey Champions Trophy final showdown with defending champions Australia, who downed hosts New Zealand 2-1.

In the bottom half of the eight-nation tournament, Germany crushed Pakistan 5-0 to leave the Green Shirts facing a wooden spoon play-off with South Korea, who were defeated 4-3 in a thriller against Great Britain.

Australia, chasing a record fourth straight title at men's hockey's last major tournament before the London Olympics, have won 11 times overall, while Spain's sole success came in 2004.

Spain, out to make amends after placing sixth at the European Championships, maintained the attacking game they have adopted at the Auckland tournament and never relinquished the lead after Eduard Tubau scored in the second minute.

Roc Oliva doubled their advantage on 25 minutes and, while Bob de Voogd pulled one back for Holland just before half time, Spain dominated the renowned Dutch defence throughout.

The pressure paid off with a Jorge Dabanch field goal after the break and Spain could have blown out the score further if not for a fine display from Dutch keeper Jacob Stockmann.

Netherlands coach Paul van Ass said the Spaniards had proved "they're back on the world level again".

"Sometimes in sport you have to admit that somebody else is better and in this game it was Spain," he said.

Spain lost 3-2 to Australia in the opening round of the tournament but pushed the defending champions hard, with Kookaburras skipper Jamie Dwyer admitting they were lucky to come away with a win.

Spanish coach Daniel Martin said he expected a tough, physical final and his team would aim to upset the Australia's rhythm early.

"The most important thing is to break the defence first, (we can) if we can play like we did today against Holland," he said.

Australia's Dwyer was named world player of the year for a record fifth time before the 2-1 win over New Zealand, which had no bearing on the final day's play on Sunday as the Kookaburras qualified for the decider with a game in hand.

Meanwhile Pakistan slumped to their fourth loss in five matches, failing to build on a promising 6-2 win over South Korea as Germany ruthlessly exploited their frailties in a five-goal mauling.

"The Germans played the game of the tournament, they did not make mistakes," Pakistan team manager Khawaja Junaid said of the reigning Olympic champions.

"We tried to hold them but they played at top pace with long bounces and (pressure) coming from both sides. It's clear there's still a difference between Pakistan and Germany."

Pakistan, making their first appearance at the Champions Trophy since 2007, will face South Korea on Sunday in a Pool D match to determine the bottom two places at the eight-nation tournament.

In the other Pool D match, South Korea squandered a 2-0 lead to go down 4-3 to Great Britain.

The Koreans looked to be cruising until James Tindall inspired a second-half fightback.

Tindall put Britain on the board after 47 minutes and followed up Ashley Jackson's 60th-minute penalty corner conversion with a second field goal four minutes from time to put his team 3-2 up and set up a frantic finale.

The never-say-die Koreans equalised through a Nam Hyun-Woo penalty shot but were left stunned when Britain's Mark Pearn latched onto a cross in the area and fired a tightly-angled shot past the keeper to seal the win.


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