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Netherlands, Germany, and Australia ahead after day 1 of Champions Trophy
29 Nov 2007 16:18

© FIH / GNN/Vino John

The first day of the Samsung Champions Trophy in Kuala Lumpur brought no surprises as Great Britain had to give in to the Netherlands, Germany defeated Pakistan, Korea and Spain drew, and Australia prevailed against a spirited Malaysian side.

The day started with the Netherlands getting on the pitch with Great Britain. Jason Lee´s British side looked good today, despite trailing early as Teun de Nooijer scored less than two minutes into the match. Britain held on to the results and even had a few opportunities of their own until half-time but they had to take another goal early in the second half.

Trailing by two goals, the Brits conceded a pair of goals by Rob Reckers to take the scoreline to four, a result that does not accurately reflect the course of a match in which Champions Trophy title holders Holland only impressed with maximum efficiency.

Heavy rainfalls that started just as the first match ended delayed further play substantially, and Germany and Pakistan had to pass an hour waiting in the stadium until they could finally start their campaigns for the Champions Trophy crown.

World champions Germany ran away to a three goal leads with an early goal from Oliver Korn and a double-hit from Moritz Fürste and Florian Keller about 20 minutes into the game. Waqas Sharif first got Pakistan on the scoreboard in the 27th minute, and when Shabbir Khan further reduced the lead in the second half, it looked like Pakistan might be able to turn the match around, but Germany replied within minutes to restore a two goal lead.

Oliver Korn, the first to score in this match, also made himself the last to score in this match, putting away his second goal of the day in the last minute of the encounter to take the end result to 5-2.

In the third match of the day, Korea and Spain split points deservedly, but are probably both disappointed to have dropped points this early in their bid for the final. Spain had had the better start into the match, scoring as early as the first minute through Edu Arbos, and piling on a second when Edi Tubau converted a penalty stroke. The Iberians also looked better throughout the first half, controlling play well while Korea struggled in their first appearance in Kuala Lumpur.

Late in the first half however, Korea´s expert penalty corner flicker Jong Hyun Jang made good use of the first short corner of the match to reduce Spain´s lead to one goal and get his team back into the game. A mistake in the otherwise very well disposed Spanish defense allowed Nam Yong Lee to put away the equalizer 13 minutes into the second half, and the Spanish could not recover from this blow.

Following their second goal, Korea even looked the more dangerous side and Spain had to put in some effort to avoid defeat until a last minute great attack from Jordi Clapes and Edu Arbos almost gave back Maurits Hendriks´ team the win. Arbos dove for the ball but had to watch it go wide as the hooter ended the match.

The day ended with world number 1 taking on the Malaysian hosts, the lowest ranked team in the competition. The Olympic champions found it surprisingly hard to prevail against an enthusiastic side supported by an even more enthusiastic home crowd. The Australians wasted scores of chances, including seven penalty corners, while Malaysia showed themselves entirely unimpressed with their mighty opponents and created a number of nice opportunities.

Despite making an excellent impression and showing themselves well prepared for this competition with the world´s best, Malaysia eventually could not avoid field goals from Russell Ford and Travis Brooks midway through the first and second halves respectively.

Australia thus secured three points, one of three teams today to do so, and are currently ranked third in the tournament. The Netherlands top the pool table, closely followed by Germany and Australia, while Spain and Korea form the table´s middle, and Malaysia, Pakistan, and Malaysia trail behind without points after day one.

The Samsung Champions Trophy Kuala Lumpur 2007 continues tomorrow when Pakistan meet Spain, the Netherlands take on hosts Malaysia, Germany butt heads with Great Britain, and Australia conclude the day with their match against Korea.

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