THE HAGUE: India suffered a humiliating 0-4 loss against defending champions Australia in their final group league encounter of the Men’s Hockey World Cup here on Monday. Chris Ciriello (16th and 22nd) struck a brace while Kieran Govers (3rd) and Jeremy Hayward (20th) struck a goal apiece. Asserting their strength, Australia built up a four-goal lead in the initial 22 minutes, before the Indian managed to re-group themselves and put up a stronger defence thereby denying the fancied rivals, a chance of scoring any more goals.
Kieran Govers opened the scoring with a field goal in the 27th minute. It was followed by three penalty corner strikers - two by Chris Ciriello and one by Jeremy Hayward. Australia topped Group A with maximum 15 points from five successive victories. The Aussies players are on course to have another crack at the title as a present to their coach Ric Charlesworth, for whom this will be the last World Cup as he retires later this year. India finished their five pool matches with four points, gained from a victory over Malaysia and a draw with Spain.
Australia opened the game by pressuring the Indian defence into conceding an early goal. Two strikers pressured defender VR Raghunath for space on top of the Indian circle, snatched the ball from him to raid the Indian goal in the third minute. Simon Orchard then dribbled in the circle and sent a cross to Govers to shoot into the goal with the custodian already beaten by the cross. India first came up to the rival circle in the 10th minute, but move wasted as Chinglensana Singh as his reverse push was misdirected and went out.
Australia then converted three successive penalty corners to take a 4-0 lead at half-time. The penalty corner conversions began with Ciriello placing his drag flick on the first penalty corner to the left of goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. India then twice moved up to the rival circle, but misdirected passes continued to waste the hard work. At the other end, the second Australian penalty corner was converted by Hayward in the 20th minute after Ciriello’s initial shot had struck onrushing defender Raghunath. Ciriello was on target two minutes later with a low flick that went through the Indian defenses.
Spain beat Malaysia 5-2: Gabriel Dabanch scored twice to help Spain cruise to a 5-2 win over Malaysia in a highly-charged Pool ‘A’ encounter in the GreenFields Stadium on Monday. The result means that Spain finish 4th in Pool ‘A’ and will play in the 7-8 classification match against the team that finishes 4th in Pool ‘B’. That position is currently occupied by New Zealand, but may change on Tuesday (today) when the final Pool ‘B’ matches are played. Malaysia’s 6th place finish means that they will compete in the 11th-12th place classification game against either Korea or South Africa. The majority of a lively and feisty first half was dominated by the Spaniards, who attacked at will and caused the Malaysian defence no end of problems. Malaysia were forced to defend in numbers, with goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam doing his best to keep the Europeans off the score-board before the inevitable opener arrived in the 14th minute.
Gabi Dabanch was the scorer, cracking home a first time back-hand strike after Kumar blocked a penalty corner. Spain looked rampant at times and could easily have added a second before Dabanch went from hero to villian by getting sent to the sin-bin for a poor challenge. Malaysia took full advantage of having an extra player on the field, grabbing a 24th minute equaliser from Tengku Ahmad after a neat exchange of passes along the baseline. The final 11 minutes of the half saw two yellow cards, one green card as well as a goal for the Spaniards. An ugly incident resulted in both Faizal Saari of Malaysia and Spain’s David Alegre seeing yellow before Malaysia’s Razie Abd Rahim was shown green. Nine-man Malaysia were punished by the ten Spanish players who remained on the field, with Marc Salles sending a rocket-shot past Kumar’s right shoulder from the top of the circle to give Spain a 2-1 lead at the break.
Spain took their advantage to 4-1 early in the second period, with team captain Santi Freixa netting a penalty corner drag-flick before Dabanch fired through Kumar’s legs from the right to claim his second goal of the game. Despite trailing by three goals, Malaysia never gave up the ghost and reduced the deficit when Fitri Saari sent a penalty stroke into the top right corner. Fitri came close to netting Malayia’s third with a glorious tomahawk effort, being denied only by an acrobatic glove save from Cortes that brought a roar of approval from the crowd. However, it was Spain who had the last laugh, with Sergi Enrique wrapping up the points a minute from the end with a perfectly placed slap-shot.
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