Day 2 in Rotterdam started off with another good performance by Argentina who - after holding Germany to a draw yesterday - took away three points from their match with Australia today. Next up, Spain came out blazing for a crushing win over Korea that included four goals from an outstanding Pol Amat. The Netherlands and Germany concluded the day with a 5-3 win of the hosts after turning the game around after being 2 goals down.
Argentina defeat Australia 2:1 (2:1)
The two teams started off as even opponents, neither going for full press at the beginning, but Argentina soon dared the Kookaburras, winning a penalty corner that Lucas Vila made good use of with a powerful drive into the right side of the goal.
Australia responded with increasing pressure, and the match turned into a fast-paced end-to-end game. The Kookaburras found it hard to create chances however, with Argentina absorbing the pressure well and putting forward a great performance in defense. The white-and-blue even ended up upping the ante with a second goal as Tomas Argento slapped the rebound off a Lucas Rey shot into the net.
Two down now, Australia continued to increase the pressure, and got on the scoreboard with a beautiful goal when Fergus Kavanagh deflected a great drive into the circle from Desmond Abbott, but could not get any closer.
Throughout the second half, both teams played great hockey in this match that was certainly the best in this tournament so far. Australia was closer to scoring but Argentina played cleverly and showed world class skills, denying the Olympic champions on a couple of great opportunities, including a cracking short corner flick from Luke Doerner that hit the post.
With more than two minutes to go, Australia even took their goalkeeper off the field, opting to play with 11 field players, but it was to no avail: Argentina held the score over time, winning the match thanks to their two goals early in the match. Argentina are beginning to emerge as serious contenders in this tournament, while today's dropped points may well end up seriously hurting Australia's bid for the final. Australia will be disappointed after having the better part of possession in the second half, especially given that after scoring five in their opener, it was their finishing they struggled with most today.
Spain defeat Korea 7:2 (3:0)
After their opening defeat against an overwhelming Dutch side, Spain took to the field a changed team today, showing a determination and flair they markedly lacked yesterday. Their Korean opponents could not live up to the expectations again, recording their second consecutive defeat in this competition.
After some open battle in the first few minutes of the match, Spain put their stamp on the game early, scoring first in the 7th minute when Xavi Ribas put away a penalty corner with a flick to the top right corner of the goal - the 2300th goal in Champions Trophy history.
As time went on, Spain increasingly took control of the match while Korea - as yesterday - seemed unable to adapt to their opponents' play. Spain had several good chances while Korea rarely managed to get dangerous, killing off their own chances before they ever really became any more often than not.
And then came Pol Amat. Putting away a pair of goals on each side of the break, he singlehandedly took Spain to a 5-0 lead by the 40th minute. Little later, Korea started to look dangerous for the first time in the match, and promptly won a penalty corner that yielded their first goal, courtesy of a Byung Hoon Kim dragflick.
But it was only a minor blip in roll the Spanish were on. They quickly got back on track, and went on piling on two more. Ramon Alegre scooped the rebound off a penalty corner past Dong Sik Ko, and Santi Freixa made a great solo run finished off with a fantastic goal from a narrow angle, sweeping the ball past the sliding Korean last man.
Jong Hyun Jang scored one more goal in the dying seconds of the match, scoring another penalty corner goal for Korea, but it was nothing more than a drop in the ocean, reducing the lag to five goals. Spain took three points with a dominating performance between two teams that are fairly equal when it comes to world rankings, keeping themselves in contention with half the total possible points from their first two matches.
Korea on the other side were outmatched for the second day in a row, and have conceded twelve goals in no more than 28 hours. The Asians will have to come up with a better game plan, aiming to reduce exposure of their goal.
Netherlands defeat Germany 5:3 (1:2)
The second day in Rotterdam ended with an incredible turnaround in the game between the Netherlands and Germany, as the hometeam fell two goals behind to proceed to score 5 in a row for a 5-2 win in the end.
Germany scored first when the game had barely gotten under way, when Florian Keller put a reverse stick shot off a Sebastian Draguhn pass past Dutch goalkeeping legend Guus Vogels. And entertaining half of hockey of the highest standard followed, a touch-and-go, breakneck speed encounter between two of the best teams in the world.
Germany extended the lead to two as Florian Keller put away his second of the day with a low dragflick on a penalty corner but Oranje kept in touch, increasing the pressure over time and scoring their first just before the break with a missile of a flick from Roderick Weusthof on another penalty corner.
With a 2-1 halftime score, the stage was set for second half drama as Germany needed to win points from their second match to keep alive their hopes of the final - having already dropped two in their opener.
Supported by a capacity crowd in the 8000+ Rotterdam stadium, the Dutch were in no mind to cave in to old rivals Germany however, and turned the second half into a stunning comeback. Rob Reckers equalized soon after the break, deflecting a hit into the circle at close range, and Roderick Weusthof first brought the hosts ahead with his second of the day, once more displaying great dragflicking skills on a short corner.
Ronald Brouwer raised the bar with another goal for Holland three minutes later, pushing the ball in under goalkeeper Max Weinhold off a nice Rob Reckers pass. Jeroen Hertzberger effectively put the Dutch out of reach with the fifth goal for his team with a quick flip finish around Max Weinhold who went down too early.
Jan-Marco Montag scored a consolation goal after time, converting another penalty corner for the 5-3 final scoreline, but it remained a disappointing start for the World Champions, having only one point to their name after the opening weekend and lagging behind in fifth place. The Netherlands dominated for a 20 minute period in the second half to erase an early two goal lead by Germany, which puts them to the top of the table at the end of day 2 and also makes them the best bet for a place in Sunday's final.
At the end of day two, the Netherlands thus occupy the top spot in the table as the only team not to have dropped points so far, followed by Argentina on four points, Spain and Australia on three, Germany on one, and Korea still without.
Tomorrow Monday will be a rest day for all teams, with action resuming on Tuesday with the matches between Germany and Korea, Australia and Spain, and the Netherlands and Argentina.
For more information on the tournament, including action photos, live commentary from ongoing matches and previews for upcoming matches, please visit the dedicated tournament site.