First up on day four in the women's competition, the USA kept alive their hopes of reaching the semi finals of the Olympic hockey tournament with a comprehensive 4:1 victory over New Zealand, while in the subsequent game, the Dutch women made themselves the first Olympic semi-finalists in Beijing with a win over Australia.
Argentina celebrated a comprehensive victory over Germany to stay in the running for a semi-final spot as well, while the home team had no difficulty against Korea, dispatching their opponents 6-1 with hat-tricks from Tang Chunling and Fu Baorong.
USA defeat New Zealand 4:1 (2:0)
USA kept alive their hopes of reaching the semi finals of the Olympic hockey tournament with a comprehensive 4:1 victory over New Zealand. The result moved the USA – albeit temporarily – into second place in the pool.
USA took the lead after just 35 seconds, when Keli Smith moved across the top of the New Zealand circle from right to left before firing her reverse stick shot into the bottom right corner of Beth Jurgeleit’s goal. It went from bad to worse for New Zealand in the 12th minute when Angie LOY received a penalty corner pass on the left post before putting the ball into an unguarded net. New Zealand finally woke up and began to pressure the Americans, but their cause was not helped when Krystal Forgesson received a yellow card in the 31st minute, causing the side to lose the momentum they had been slowly building.
New Zealand pulled a goal back at the start of the second half when Joanne Galletly got on the score-sheet with a penalty corner. The USA nearly conceded again when Emily Naylor missed the target when clean through on goal, but Keli Smith relieved the pressure when she expertly deflected a 42nd minute penalty corner high into the goal. 3:1 became 4:1 from another penalty corner five minutes later, this time Kayla Bashore with the all-important touch in front of goal. Despite USA’s Lauren Powley received a yellow card with 15 minutes to go, but New Zealand could not make the extra player count.
Netherlands defeat Australia 2:1 (1:1)
In the clash of the two teams dominating pool A until now, the Netherlands defeated Australia by the narrowest of margins.
The two teams started off equal opponents in the first half, with the Dutch dominating the early stages, but the Hockeyroos having a good few opportunities towards the end of the first half.
Two first half goals, first for Australia as Sarah Young slapped the ball in from close range on the Hockeyroos very first promising attack, then from Maartje Paumen, roofing the ball with a powerful flick on a penalty corner, sent the teams into halftime at one all.
After the break, it was open battle as both sides went after the elusive winning goal but the Dutch were the luckier party - having unstoppable Maartje Paumen in their ranks, who put away her second penalty corner of the day, her seventh of the tournament, midway through the second half to give her team the lead and eventually the win. Paumen has scored seven of Holland's so far 12 goals, and is thus the author of more than 50% of their total! Paumen is also almost certainly goign to pick up the women's topscorer title here in Beijing, currently four goals clear of any other scorer.
In the lead, the Netherlands controlled the game well, confining Australia to their half of the field for long stretches of time and giving them little room to create danger. The Hockeroos tried hard but could not get past the ranks of their opponents, and the match ended 2-1 for Holland.
Netherlands take the victory, and move three points clear
at the top of pool A. This means that they have sealed a spot in the Olympic semi-finals, and they are the first team in Beijing to do so.
Argentina defeat Germany 4:0 (0:0)
Luciana Aymar showed just why she is the world’s best player as Argentina overcame pool leaders Germany 4:0, putting themselves firmly within reach of a semi final spot. Goals from Claudia Burkart, Alejandra Gulla (2) and a terrific strike from Luciana Aymar gave Argentina the victory, and now need to beat bottom side New Zealand to seal their progress into the medal matches.
The game was one that Las Leonas had to win if they were going to keep semi final qualification in their own hands, and came out playing as if their lives depended on it. They were extremely tense, but soon found their stride. Both sides had good chances in the first half, with Aymar and Germany’s Maike Stoeckel both with decent opportunities. However, the first half finished goal-less, meaning Argentina really needed to come out firing at the start of the second half.
Argentina finally opened the scoring thanks to a powerful penalty corner slap-shot from Claudia Burkart in the 38th minute. The relief on the faces of the Argentinean players was evident for all to see, with the relief turning to ecstasy in the 49th minute when Alejandra Gulla scored a typical poachers goal from close range. Germany rallied, but could find no way past the Argentina defence marshalled by veteran Magdalena Aicega. Gulla scored her second of the game in the 66th minute to make the score 3-1, before Aymar picked up the ball at the top of the circle and fired an unstoppable shot past Germany keeper Kristina Reynolds to complete the scoring.
China defeat Korea 6:1 (2:0)
The home team went into their match against Korea today knowing they needed points to keep alive their dream of reaching the semi-final. And they bagged three points in convincing manner to keep up with Australia and make Monday's match the decider.
The beginning of the match was troublesome for China, dominating the game but unable to score until late in the first half, when two goals from Tang Chunling put the Chinese ahead.
Both teams had had chances in the first half, with slight advantages on China's side, but China had used their opportunities more wisely, making good use of a yellow card for Korea's Jong Eun Kim to score both goals while one player up. Korea had not managed to get onto the scoreboard despite a number of chances including six penalty corners.
But it was in the second half that China pulled away for good. Only just back on the field, the hosts scored three times in two minutes to escape to an unassailable five goal lead. Fu Baorong contributed two goals, while Tang Chunling completed her hat-trick.
Midway through the second half, Korea were able to finally get their first goal when team captain Seon Ok Lee converted a penalty stroke, but they had to concede another for the gap to stay at five goals and Fu Baorong to complete the second hat-trick in the Chinese team today with a stunning goal that proved just how incredible a player she is.
China now have access to the semi-finals in their own hands: in the direct encounter with Australia in Monday's last round of pool play, the hosts need to win to go through.
2008 Olympic Games, Women - Beijing, China
Results Saturday August 16
New Zealand – USA 1:4 (0:2)
USA Keli SMITH (FG) 1min
USA Angela LOY (PC) 12min
NZL Joanne GALLETLY (PC) 37min
USA Keli SMITH (PC) 42min
USA Kayla BASHORE (PC) 47min
Australia – Netherlands 1:2 (1:1)
AUS Sarah YOUNG (FG) 17min
NED Maartje PAUMEN (PC) 20min
NED Maartje PAUMEN (PC) 46min
Germany – Argentina 0:4 (0:0)
ARG Claudia BURKART (PC) 38min
ARG Alejandra GULLA (FG) 49min
ARG Alejandra GULLA (FG) 66min
ARG Luciana AYMAR (FG) 68min
Korea - China 1:6 (0:2)
CHN Chunling TANG (FG) 30min
CHN Chunling TANG (FG) 33min
CHN Baorong FU (FG) 39min
CHN Baorong FU (FG) 40min
CHN Chunling TANG (FG) 41min
KOR Seon Ok LEE (PS) 53min
CHN Baorong FU (FG) 64min