August 13, 2016 4:07:05 am
Olympic champion Germany held on to beat the Netherlands 2-1 Friday in their 200th meeting to top their pool in men’s field hockey at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Germany led 2-0 soon after halftime thanks to nice touches in front of goal, but the Dutch cut the margin just before the fourth quarter.
German forward Christopher Ruhr was yellow-carded with three minutes to go, and his teammates barely saved two more penalty corners and a shot. Netherlands defender Mink van der Weerden, leading the competition with seven goals, had all four of his corners saved.
Germany goes into the quarterfinals with four straight wins after opening with a draw against Argentina. The European champion Dutch lost their unbeaten record and finished second in Pool B.
India is third after conceding a 2-2 draw with Canada, but could yet be overtaken by Argentina, which plays Ireland later Friday among the last men’s pool matches. Also on the schedule were: Britain vs. Spain; Belgium vs. New Zealand; and Australia vs. Brazil.
In the women’s field, New Zealand denied the defending champion Netherlands a fourth straight win when it snatched a late 1-1 draw, and China eliminated South Korea from quarterfinal contention with a 0-0 draw.
The Germans got away early when Tom Grambusch’s cross-field pass was deflected in by Florian Fuchs. Mats Grambusch also showed a nice touch with the bottom of his stick to angle in Ruhr’s pin-point pass. When Niklas Wellen was yellow-carded, Seve van Ass scored for the Netherlands. A cross was cut enough by Jeroen Hertzberger that the goalie missed it but Van Ass didn’t.
Germany hung on in its quest to become the first men’s team in 60 years to win three straight golds.
India, a night after losing to the Netherlands, couldn’t shake off Canada in their draw, the first point Canada took off India in Olympic competition since the 1964 Tokyo Games. Each Indian goal was quickly responded to by the winless Canadians with penalty corner scores.
India pulled its goalkeeper with less than three minutes left for an extra attacker, but couldn’t score and was vulnerable to being replaced for third in the pool by Argentina.
In the women’s Pool A, the Dutch remained unbeaten but New Zealand was right behind them in the standings, ahead of Germany on goal difference. The Netherlands, seeking an unprecedented third straight gold medal, will play Germany on Saturday for potentially the winner of the pool and a supposedly easier route to the semifinals.
With 68 seconds to go, Brooke Neal’s pass up the middle wasn’t controlled by the Dutch defense, and New Zealand captain Kayla Whitelock spun and whacked a volley which glanced in off the underside of Netherlands goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek’s stick.
The Dutch were stunned and annoyed to concede so late, but New Zealand rallied in the second half after allowing a penalty corner goal just before halftime to Netherlands captain Maartje Paumen. Paumen’s shot to the stick side of goalie Sally Rutherford went in off the post.
“We need to keep in our head to keep playing hockey and not be chickens,” Netherlands midfielder Lidewij Welten said.
Sombroek appeared to be unpassable but enjoyed some luck. Anita McLaren’s penalty corner shot hit the post.
The reaction of China coach Cho Myung Jun summed up the match against South Korea, as he gritted his teeth and flailed around after every missed chance. And the Chinese had lots of chances.
In the fourth quarter alone, they blew three consecutive penalty corners, and bumbled another pair. Forward Zhang Xiaoxue had the best chance of the match, clear in front and hitting the post with six minutes to go.
China, holding the fourth and final quarterfinal spot in Pool A, moved two points ahead of Spain. In the last women’s pool round on Saturday, the Spanish, who have a horrible goal differential, must beat the winless South Koreans to heap pressure on China to beat New Zealand to make the quarterfinals, instead.
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