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Olympic Reports - Day 3
12 Aug 2008 09:10

© FIH / Gordon Morrison

In the morning session of day 2 in the women's competition, Argentina faced Great Britain, and in a repeat performance of their first match gave away a 2-0 lead for a 2-2 draw final result. In the other match, Australia started slow, conceding an early goal but then stormed away to a 6-1 victory.

Japan looked like they would record their second win for the bigger part of their match with the USA, but had to settle for a draw after a late goal by the Americans. The Chinese hosts had no difficulty in defeating South Africa even though they wasted scores of chances.

Argentina draw Great Britain 2:2 (1:0)

The Argentineans took an early lead when Soledad Garcia slapped the rebound off a Noel Barrionuevo penalty corner that had hit the post into the net. Later on, Alejandra Gulla scored their second with a deflection on a penalty corner variation, and it looked like the match was a done deal.

Despite their severe difficulties to translate their superiority out on the field into scoring opportunities, Argentina were the dominating team, controlling the ball and dictating play against a British team that was inconspicuous unless on a quick break where they always looked dangerous.

In the second half, Argentina soon started to look shaky, committing too many individual errors and giving the ball away too easily. A yellow card for Mariana Gonzalez Oliva for two rough tackles in a row gave the Brits the room they needed, and they scored on a penalty corner. Back to full strength, las Leonas conceded another penalty corner less than two minutes later which Mel Clewlow sank with a deft flick - two all.

Argentina found more rhythm again after the Brits' second goal, and played aggressive attacking hockey, dominating possession and creating many chances, but they were unable to make use of any of them. Bringing in the second draw against the supposed second tier teams in the pool is a huge disappointment for Argentina, and a big blow to their aspirations for the semifinals. For Great Britain, the draw is a ray of hope after the crushing 1-5 defeat they suffered in their first match against Germany.

Australia defeat Spain 6:1 (1:1)

In the day's second match, Australia had the advantage at the beginning with a string of early chances, but was stunned when Spain got on the scoreboard first with a penalty corner goal when Silvia Muñoz slapped the rebound of a Maria Romagosa hit into the net.

Subsequently, it took the Australians almost twenty minutes to level the scores with an Angie Lambert goal in a first half in which play can only be described as scrappy and erratic. Gaining momentum towards the break, the Hockeyroos were not able to get beyond a 1-1 draw for a half-time score, but as it later turned out, they were saving up for the second half.

Interestingly, the first goal of the match was the Australians' 100th Olympic goal in women's Olympic hockey history, and the Hockeyroos are the first women's team to reach that milestone.

When play resumed, faced with a fading Spanish team that hit the wall midway through the second half, Australia first took the lead in the 47th minute through a fabulous solo goal from Nikki Hudson, and went on to run away with the match with Casey Eastham, Emily Halliday and Megan Rivers adding one goal each and Angie Lambert scoring her second of the day.

While they started slowly, the 6-1 final scoreline seems a fair reflection of the utmost dominance that Australia exerted in the second half of the game, when the Spanish team had nothing left to give.

Their second victory in as many matches makes the Hockeyroos a big favorite for a semifinal spot in pool A of the women's competition. Spain on the other hand are in a rough place after losing their first two encounters, making it almost impossible to still reach the top four they had aspired to in order to repeat - or top - their 2006 World Cup 4th place finishing.

USA draw Japan 1:1 (0:1)

The USA fought hard to a well deserved draw against Japan, their second in so many games after their spectacular come-back against Argentina on opening day.

Japan took advantage of a rare dangerous chance to open the scoring early in the first half, when a long ball in the circle found Kaori CHIBA alone in front of Amy TRAN, and the Japanese striker had no trouble deflecting the ball in net to open the scoring. Japan then retreated in a defensive shell and seemed content to let the USA do the running to try and find a solution to penetrate their defense.

Both teams committed multiple mistakes and turnovers that prevented the game to find a decent pace. The USA, to their credit, kept trying hard and changed their tactics to bring the danger faster around the Japanese circle. They were rewarded when Kate BARBER promptly exploited an untidy defensive clearance to surprise the Japanese goalkeeper and slot the ball in goal.

The USA must be happy with their two draws against teams much higher than them in the rankings. Japan now have a win and a draw, and will anxiously wait for news of their striker CHIBA who needed to be evacuated on a stretcher at the end of the game.

China defeat South Africa 3:0 (2:0)

In the first game of the late session in the main stadium, China took on South Africa in front of a very enthusiastic near-capacity crowd. Much to the spectators' joy, the home team quickly took the lead with a Chunling Tang goal, deflecting a Ma Yibo hit.

As time progressed, China became oppressively superior after a somewhat sluggish start, but just could not score. Towards the end of the first half, just when South Africa had gained a little momentum, the relieving second goal for the hosts came in the form of a brilliant Fu Baorong goal. South African Mariette Rix warded two shots off, but Fu Baorong wouldn't give up, and on the third attempt got past Rix for the 2-0 half-time score.

Shortly after the re-start, the Chinese piled on a third goal when Qingling Song picked up the ball in the circle with her back to goal before striking on the reverse into the bottom corner. Despite their dominance, that was all China could do today however. Wasting scores of chances, they still easily won this encounter, but will have to work on their effectivity in front of the goal for the upcoming matches with stronge opponents, or it may well come back to haunt them.

With their second win in their second match, China look well on their way into the semifinals, while South Africa are struggling to keep up in this tournament.

2008 Olympic Games, Women – Beijing, China
Results Tuesday August 12

Argentina - Great Britain 2:2 (2:0)
ARG Soledad GARCIA (PC) 10min
ARG Alejandra GULLA (PC) 27min
GBR Sarah THOMAS (PC) 49min
GBR Mel CLEWLOW (PC) 51min

Australia - Spain 6:1 (0:1)
ESP Silvia MUÑOZ (PC) 6min
AUS Angela LAMBERT (PC) 27min
AUS Nikki HUDSON (FG) 47min
AUS Casey EASTHAM (PC) 54min
AUS Angela LAMBERT (PC) 60min
AUS Emily HALLIDAY (PC) 66min
AUS Megan RIVERS (FG) 70min

USA - Japan 1:1 (0:1)
JAP Kaori CHIBA (FG) 12mn
USA Kate BARBER (FG) 58mn

China - South Africa 3:0 (2:0)
CHN Chunling TANG (FG) 5min
CHN Baorong FU (FG) 32min
CHN Qingling SONG (FG) 40min

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