After completion of four matches in the 6-nation Round-robin Hero Champions Trophy, Australia assured themselves of a place in the final by defeating Belgium and thus winning their third match. Germany’s drawn game with Great Britain means the defending champions go out of contention and that leaves India GBR and Belgium vying for the second spot. Though India sit at the second place in the points’ table on day 4, there is no guarantee that they would enter the final. Now everything depends on the last round-robin matches on Thursday June 16, because there will be no matches on Wednesday. In the last three games of league-phase, India play Australia, Great Britain take on Belgium and Germany face Korea. If India could beat Australia, they sail into the final straightaway but any other result will bring the result of the match between GBR and Belgium into focus. Not only that, the goal-averages among the three teams may also assume importance.
In their fourth match, India took on the Koreans at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis center in London. PR Sreejesh was relieved of his duties as captain to concentrate on goalkeeping and SV Sunil led the team on Tuesday. Both teams attempted to score in the first two quarters but the score-sheet remained blank. India took the lead in 39th minute with a brilliant move from Sunil. He began his superb run from mid-filed and after reaching close to the Korean goal area, passed the ball to Akashdeep. The Indian forward was quick in sending the ball back to Sunil outside D. In a smart move, Sunil dodged the goalkeeper and sounded the board for a 1-0 lead for India. But with three minutes remaining for fulltime, India suffered a jolt as the Koreans found the equalizer. Kim Juhun was on spot after receiving a long ball from the field and his deflection drew the scores level at 1-1. With time running out, India got lucky, when Korea committed a defensive error and Chandanda Thimmaiah did not fail to capitalize by scoring from close range. The 2-1 win lifted India to second place behind Australia in the league table.
By defeating Belgium 2-0 in their fourth match, Australia have ensured the final berth in the competition. To Belgium’s credit, they fought hard with the Kookaburras and kept the score-sheet blank until the halftime. Australia took the lead in 38th minute, when Glenn Turner sent a cracking shot into the goal from close range. Belgium tried hard to get the equalizer but when, Tristan White scored his second goal in two games in the 49th minute by driving firmly from the top of the D, it was curtain for the Belgian Red Lions.
Defending champions Germany went out of final contention with another drawn game against hosts Great Britain. In fact Germany had secured a 1-0 lead by a 29th minute penalty conversion by Tobias Hauke and held that advantage until the fourth quarter. But Ashley Jackson’s penalty-corner conversion in 48th minute sent Germany tumbling out of the tournament. On the other hand, the crucial point that Great Britain earned with a 1-1 draw, brought them back into tournament contention. Now they will pray for India’s defeat against Australia on Thursday while also striving for victory over Belgium in their last league game. Germany had won the 2014 edition of the Champions Trophy held in Bhubaneswar and their next match with Korea will only have academic importance.
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