The three matches played in the 2016 Hero Champions Trophy at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Monday were all high quality games. The drizzle did little to dampen the spirit of the players in the six teams and they yielded fine performances. India lost their first game of the competition but their rivals Belgium bounced back into reckoning with a 2-1 win. World champions Australia also won against defending champions Germany despite a two goal deficit at one stage and Great Britain recorded their first win as well by beating Korea. Australia has emerged as the runaway leaders after their three matches while the battle for second place has become intriguing.
In the first quarter, both India and Belgium created goal-scoring chances but couldn’t convert them into goals. India captain and goalkeeper was brilliant again as he denied Belgium three penalty corners early in the second quarter, after the first session ended goalless. However, Belgium took the lead in 24th minute by converting a penalty corner, when Alexander Hendrickx shot through Sreejesh’s legs. However, India came on level terms in the 30th minute with Devindar Walmiki producing a smashing hit that struck the roof of the Belgian net.
After half time, the battle continued but India failed to convert the penalty corners awarded to them. One minute before the end of third quarter, Belgium took a decisive 2-1 lead, when Jerome Truyens found a very small gap between the post and Sreejesh’s left leg and squeezed a shot through the narrowest of angles. No more goals could accrue in the last quarter and while India lost their first match of the tournament, Belgium benefitted from their first victory. Since Great Britain also won their match against Korea later in the day, three teams; GBR, India and Belgium have 4 points each, behind the table-toppers’ Australia’s 7. India’s next game is against Korea on Tuesday and they must win it to remain in contention.
Australia defeated Germany after trailing 0-2 in the first quarter. Germany’s Florian Fuchs converted a 12th minute penalty corner to give his team a 1-0 lead that swelled to 2-0 in the 14th minute from a field goal by Tobias Hauke. However, Australia leveled the scores in the second quarter, when Glenn Turner and Tristan White scored field goals in 17th and 22nd minutes. At the stroke of halftime, Germany took the lead back from Australia with Fuchs scoring a field goal. But the Australians leveled again with Blake Govers’ penalty corner conversion in the 40th minute. The last quarter was intensely fought but the Kookaburras ended up 4-3 winners with a penalty corner conversion by Aran Zelewski in the 53rd minute.
Hosts Great Britain recorded their first win of the tournament by beating Korea 4-1. The result has brought Britain back into contention of the Champions Trophy and they are now placed second with 4 points on superior goal difference. Britain shot into the lead through a penalty stroke by Ashley Jackson in the 7th minute and doubled that lead through a field goal by David Condon in the 18th minute. Korea’s Seungju You reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the 22nd minute, when he converted a penalty corner. But Alistair Brogdon and David Condon produced two field goals in the 33rd and 46th minutes respectively to bring a 4-1 victory for the hosts. Britain plays Germany on Tuesday while Australia take on Belgium.