Bhubaneswar: Two-time champions Germany outclassed last edition silver medallist Netherlands 4-1 in their second Pool D match to inch closer towards booking a direct quarterfinal berth at the ongoing men’s hockey World Cup here on Wednesday. Germany came back from a goal down and scored through Mathias Muller (30th minute), Lukas Windfeder (52nd), Marco Miltkau (54th) and Christopher Ruhr (58th) to register their second consecutive win in the pool. Netherlands, however, took the early lead through Valentin Verga in the 13th minute.
By virtue of this win, Germany are atop Pool D with six points from two wins ahead of Netherlands, who are on three points.
Germany had earlier defeated Pakistan 1-0 in their opening match, while Netherlands had mauled Malaysia 7-0. In the battle between world number 4 Netherlands and number six Germany, the Dutch were the early aggressors but the Germans came to the party as the match progressed.
Netherlands captain Billy Baker had the first real scoring opportunity in the eighth minute but his shot from a close range was brilliantly saved by German keeper Tobias Walter. But the Netherlands, who were the better team at least in the first quarter, were not to be denied the lead as Verga broke the deadlock in the 13th minute, tapping in Mirco Pruijser’s reverse hit cross from close range.
The Germans got their first penalty corner seconds before the end of first quarter but were unlucky as Mathias Muller’s strike from a superb variation struck the post. Another Germany attempt, this time from Niklas Wellen’s reverse hit was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
Germany continued to press hard and at the stroke of first quarter secured back-to-back penalty corners, the second of which resulted in a beautiful goal by Muller from a superb, well-executed variation.The Germans continued to be aggressive after the change of ends but it was Netherlands who got four penalty corners in a span of two minutes but wasted all the opportunities.
The missed opportunities cost Netherlands dear as Germany scored from their fourth penalty corner with Windfeder finding the back of Dutch goal with a low grounded flick.
Two minutes later, Germany made the scoreling 3-1 in their favour when Miltkau deflected in a Niklas Wellen pass from the right flank. As if that was not enough for the Dutch, Germany struck again two minutes from the final hooter from a penalty stroke which was converted by Ruhr.
Pak, Malaysia go Dutch
Four-time champions Pakistan played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Malaysia in a Pool D match as both the teams remained in the hunt for a knock-out round berth. After failing to break the deadlock for a long time, Pakistan drew the first blood in the 51st minute through Muhammad Atiq’s field strike before Malaysia restored parity four minutes later when Faizal Saari converted a penalty corner to stay afloat in the competition.
The draw meant both Pakistan and Malaysia remained in the fray for the knock-out rounds, having garnered a point each from two outings. Germany are leading the pool with six points ahead of Netherlands and Pakistan. Malaysia are placed last because of an inferior goal difference.
Pakistan had earlier lost by a solitary goal to Germany, while Malaysia were thrashed 0-7 by the Netherlands. Pakistan will round off their pool engagements against Netherlands on December 9 while Malaysia, with a goal difference of -7, have an uphill task against the Germans the same day.
In the encounter between world number 12 Malaysia and number 13 Pakistan, there were hardly anything to separate the two sides. Malaysia started brightly earning two penalty corners in the third minute. While the first attempt was blocked by the Pakistani runner, the next try was kept at bay by keeper Imran Butt.
Next, it was Pakistan’s turn to earn a penalty corner but Aleem Bilal’s drag-flick directed at the top right corner was blocked by Malaysia goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam. Malaysia came close to scoring in the ninth minute but Butt came up with yet another great save to stop Razi Rahim’s drag-flick directed at the bottom centre.
It was an end-to-end battle as experienced Subramiam made another smart save to keep away a reverse flick from a midfield pass of Tasawar Abbas. Pakistan attacked mostly through the centre with 80 per cent of their circle entries coming from that area, while Malaysia tried to find spaces on the right side.
Faizal Saari earned Malaysia their fourth penalty corner in the 23rd minute but Butt once again made a good save to deny Saari. Both the teams made forays with pace and trickery on either ends but they lacked the final pass inside the box.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)