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Korea, England and China all claim wins
09 Jun 2007 18:26
Good crowds on the opening day of the AtaHolding Champion

AtaHolding Hockey Champions Challenge, Women

Day 1: Results

Korea 2 defeated USA 0

Goals: KOR – Seul Ki CHEON PC 4m, Hye Lyoung HAN FG 31m

Korea got their Champions Challenge campaign off to a flying start with a dominant display against the USA. The Americans struggled to cope with Korea’s outstanding skills, passing and movement, and the score-line could certainly have been greater.

Initially the pace of the game was slow, as both teams tried to establish themselves. However, it was Korea who got into their stride the quickest, testing USA keeper Amy TRAN on numerous occasions. Korea took the lead with a routine penalty corner from Seul ki CHEON, and never looked likely to lose that advantage in the first half. Their second goal arrived in the 31st minute, with Jong Eun KIM setting up Hye Lyoung HAN with a clever pass for a tap-in.

Korea threatened to run away with the match in the second half, but could not make the most of their dominance. The USA did well to keep the score down, with TRAN and defender Rachel DAWSON both in fine form. After only one match, Korea look likely to be the team to beat at this tournament.

England 1 defeated New Zealand 0

Goal: ENG – Cathy GILLIAT-SMITH PC 11m

England won their first match of the tournament thanks to a gritty display against New Zealand. If anything, New Zealand had more of the possession during the game, but it was a clinical penalty corner routine scored by Cathy GILLIAT-SMITH which secured the points for England.

The match was a closely fought contest, with both teams defending impressively. For England, Crista CULLEN and Kate WALSH were both central figures throughout the game, and it was from a WALSH drag flick that England scored the games’ only goal in the 11 minute, with GILLIAT-SMITH expertly deflecting the ball past NZL keeper Beth JURGELEIT. New Zealand went on the offensive in search of a goal, and would surely have scored just before half time but for a wonderful diving tackle from WALSH on the dangerous Krystal FORGESSON.

New Zealand began the second half as they finished the first, putting England under considerable pressure. Their best chance of the half came when Caryn PAEWAI put the ball into the England goal, only for the umpire to rightly rule out the strike as the ball hit her foot. England worked hard for their victory, and may prove a difficult team to break down in this tournament.

China 2 defeated Azerbaijan 0

Goals: CHN – Fu BAO RONG PC 58m, Ma YI BO PC 70m

China came through a tough battle to grab all three points in this evenings’ fixture against home favourites Azerbaijan. The match took place after the official opening ceremony took place here in Baku, and was watched by a large and vocal home crowd. However, China proved to be too strong for their opponents, and should be rightly pleased with their victory ahead of tomorrow’s game against USA.

China struggled to control the game in the first half, thanks to the work rate of the Azerbaijan players. The home team almost took the lead in the fourth minute, putting the ball in the net moments after umpire Dawn HENNING had blown for a penalty corner. The resulting corner strike went just wide of the target, much to the relief of the China players. Azerbaijan were being pressed back for much of the game, but defended valiantly until Fu BAO RONG scored a typical penalty corner. An overtime penalty corner from Ma YI BO finished the scoring, giving China a strong start to their AtaHolding Champions Challenge campaign.

Azerbaijan face New Zealand on Sunday evening, and both teams will be looking to secure their first points of the tournament.

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