The men's semi-finalists for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are now known, with The Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Australia booking their places today.Spain will play Australia, with The Netherlands facing Germany on Thursday evening. For information on all the action, please see below.
Netherlands defeat Pakistan 4:2 (0:1)
The Netherlands moved safely into the semi-finals of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games by getting all three points in their final Pool B match against Pakistan. The Dutch had to come back from being a goal down at half time, but strikes from Matthijs BROUWER, Taeke TAEKEMA (2) and a special goal from Jeroen HERTZBERGER sealed a convincing victory. They are the first team in the men’s competition to officially seal a place in the semi-finals, although fellow Pool B team Australia would need to lose to Great Britain by an unlikely eight goals to miss out.
Pakistan took the lead in the 27th minute thanks to an absolute ripper of a penalty corner from Muhammad IMRAN; his low effort slammed against the backboard with frightening pace. The Netherlands hit back in the 41st minute when the influential Teun de NOOIJER dribbled down the left before passing into the middle for Matthijs BROWER who made no mistake. A brace of goals followed from Taeke TAEKEMA, firing fierce penalty corner efforts into the top right corner of the goal in the 46th and 58th minutes. Pakistan pulled a goal back when Adnan MAQSOOD guided his penalty corner deflection into the net before Dutchman Jeroen HERTZBERGER scored the goal of the game, smashing a reverse stick shot in off the right post after being released by Teun de NOOIJER.
Netherlands will have to wait until later to find out their semi-final opponents, but are looking in excellent shape ahead of that match.
Germany defeat New Zealand 3:1 (2:0)
Goals from captain Timo WESS, Matthias WITTHAUS and Florian KELLER gave World Champions Germany a deserved victory over New Zealand. The result was good enough to put them in the semi-finals, forcing their opponents, into either the 5th/6th or 7th / 8th place play-off, depending on the result of the Korea versus Spain match this evening.
Needing a win to keep their Olympic Gold medal dream alive, Germany hit New Zealand hard from the moment the first whistle sounded, forcing their opponents deep into their own half. It took just five minutes for the defensive line to crack, when Timo WESS scored a powerful penalty corner to make the score 1:0. It was a captain’s goal from WESS, who produced the goods just when his side needed him most. Four minutes later the score moved to 2:0, when Matthias WITTHAUS brilliantly deflected the ball into the goal from the top of the circle. New Zealand had their best chance of the half when Phillip BURROWS picked up the ball on the backline, beat a couple of player and sent his pushed shot just wide of the right post.
New Zealand had another near miss just 20 seconds into the second half, when Simon CHILD chipped the ball over Germany keeper Max WEINHOLD only to watch it fall agonisingly wide of the target. Eventually though, their hard work paid off when Hayden SHAW slammed home a drag flicked penalty corner to make the score 2:1 in the 46th minute. However, Florian KELLER moved in from the right and stuck a superb third goal for Germany with fifteen minutes to go, killing off the New Zealand challenge.
Canada defeat South Africa 5:3 (2:2)
Canada and South Africa played out an intense battle that saw eight goals, five yellow cards and one red, with Canada running out 5:3 winners. A goal from Rob SHORT and two each for Wayne FERNANDES and Connor GRIMES gave Canada victory, but the match may well be remembered for other reasons.
South Africa took the lead through Austin SMITH, who powered in a 5th minute penalty corner ten minutes before Rob SHORT scored an equaliser, also from a penalty corner. The first yellow card was handed out to Canada’s Anthony WRIGHT in the 19th minute with another yellow card being dished out to Austin SMITH of South Africa in the same minute that countryman Lungile TSOLEKILE put RSA back in the lead. Canada’s Wayne FERNANDES grabbed another equaliser in the 31st minute before Connor GRIMES put Canada in front with a field goal. FERNANDES scored his second of the match to make the score 4:2 before Austin SMITH scored another penalty corner for South Africa. Clyde ABRAHAMS received a red card in the 60th minute for lashing out at a Canadian player with his stick, before yellow cards were handed out to Canada’s Bindi KULLAR and Austin SMITH once again. In the final minute of the match, Canada made the score 5:3 with a field goal to complete the scoring.
The result means that Canada will play in the 9th / 10th place play-off, with South Africa forced into playing off for 11th place.
Spain defeat Korea 2:1 (1:0)
Spain defeated Korea to finish the pool stage at the top of the table and reach the semi-finals together with Germany.
All pressure was on Korea in their last pool stage match: the Koreans had to win to reach the semi-finals, while a draw or a win by Spain would put that team through.
Nonetheless, the Asians had a slow and listless start, unable to kick into gear, and were under early pressure from the Spaniards. Soon enough the advantage on the field translated into an advantage on the scoreboard when Santi FREIXA put away a beautiful goal, outplaying the Korean defense and goalkeeper.
The Koreans awoke with a start towards the end of the first half and pushed aggressively for the equalizer before the break but to no avail. When the teams were back for the second period, both teams had their chances in an open match but it was Spain who pulled further ahead when Santi FREIXA claimed his second of the day, converting a penalty corner.
At the other end, Spanish keeper Quico CORTES pulled spectacular saves through out the match to deny the Koreans on quite a few opportunities until Sung Hoon YOON sank a consolation goal with less than two minutes to go.
Spain are thus in the top four, contesting their semi-final on Thursday against an opponent that way yet to be determined, while Korea will play for 5th place the same day.
Australia – Great Britain 3:3 (0:1)
Great Britain pushed Australia all the way in an exciting final Pool B match, with the Kookaburras needing a late goal from Eddie OCKENDEN to split the points. Australia had virtually qualified before the match even started, with Great Britain needing an unlikely eight goal victory, but it was still in the hands of the Aussies to decide which team they would face in the semi-finals.
A closely fought first half saw many chances, although Australia were far from at their best in this match. Great Britain took the lead in the 34th minute when Barry MIDDLETON got in front of his marker to touch a Jonty CLARKE cross into the goal from close range. Australia were level five minutes after half time when Bevan GEORGE – the most unlikely of goal scorers – put the ball over the line when GB failed to effectively clear a penalty corner. Jamie DWYER then put the Aussies ahead with an instinctive volley in the 45th minute and Australia threatened to run away with it. However, GB’s Richard Mantell had other ideas, flicking in an equaliser just two minutes later. It got even better for Great Britain when Rob MOORE blasted in a third with 15 minutes to go. Australia drew level with two minutes to go, when Eddie OCKENDEN tapped in from close range to kill off what would have been a memorable win for Great Britain.
Belgium defeat China 3:1 (2:1)
Belgium took all three points against China to claim their first win at an Olympic Games in 32 years. Belgium had to fight back from a goal down against China to secure the victory, but goals from Xavier RECKINGER, Jerome TRUYENS and John-John DOHMENS gave the Europeans a deserved win in front of a full stadium.
China took the lead when Yi SONG converted a penalty corner in just the fourth minute, triggering an enormous cheer from the home supporters. Xavier RECKINGER levelled the scores with a penalty corner in the 28th minute, before Jerome TRUYENS sent Belgium into the lead four minutes later also from a penalty corner. In the 48th minute, John-John DOHMANS scored a field goal in the 48th minute to effectively end any chance of a China fight-back.
Day 10 Results
Netherlands – Pakistan 4:2 (0:1)
PAK Muhammad IMRAN (PC) 27min
NED Matthijs BROUWER (FG) 41min
NED Taeke TAEKEMA (PC) 46min
NED Taeke TAEKEMA (PC) 58min
PAK Adnan MAQSOOD (PC) 65min
NED Jeroen HERTZBERGER (FG) 69min
Germany – New Zealand 3:1 (2:0)
GER Timo WESS (PC) 5min
GER Matthias WITTHAUS (FG) 9min
NZL Hayden SHAW (PC) 46min
GER Florian KELLER (FG) 55min
Canada – South Africa 5:3 (2:2)
RSA Austin SMITH (PC) 4min
CAN Rob SHORT (PC) 15min
RSA Lungile TSOLEKILE (FG) 28min
CAN Wayne FERNANDES (PC) 31min
CAN Connor GRIMES (FG) 38min
CAN Wayne FERNANDES (PC) 46min
RSA Austin SMITH (PC) 51min
CAN Connor GRIMES (FG) 70min
Korea - Spain 0:1 (0:1)
ESP Santi FREIXA (FG) 12min
ESP Santi FREIXA (PC) 53min
KOR Sung Hoon YOON (FG) 69min
Australia – Great Britain 3:3 (0:1)
GBR Barry MIDDLETON (FG) 34min
AUS Bevan GEORGE (PC) 40min
AUS Jamie DWYER (FG) 45min
GBR Richard MANTELL (PC) 47min
GBR Rob MOORE (FG) 55min
AUS Eddie OCKENDEN (FG) 68min
China - Belgium 1:3 (1:2)
CHN Yi SONG (PC) 4min
BEL Xavier RECKINGER (PC) 28min
BEL Jerome TRUYENS (PC) 32min
BEL Joh-John DOHMEN (FG) 48min