World’s No 1 hockey nation Australia faced Pakistan ranked 13, the bottom side in this Champions Trophy in the Dutch city of Breda.
The last time these two sides met, in the international invitational festival of hockey last November, Pakistan were pulverized 1-9
But the green shirts surprised everyone today with a wonderful display.
It could have been anyone’s game. However, an Australian goal in the dying minutes sealed three points for them.
Pakistan came out of the blocks quickly, making a couple of circle penetrations in early minutes. After wasting a penalty corner, they went ahead in the ninth minute. A superb hit from outside 23 metres was expertly deflected in by unmarked Ajaz Ahmed standing alone in the mid circle.
Within three minutes the Kookaburras equalized. A ball from just outside the circle was well directed into the goal by Trent Mitton.
In the 21st minute, Arslan Qadir missed a sitter when he shot wide with goal at his mercy. Then Australia had their moments. Blake Govers misfired an opportunity and later Pakistani net minder Imran Butt twice denied them.
Half Time 1:1
Immediately on resumption, Butt saved a top of the circle bullet. In the 38th minute, Brand put it in but it was ruled out for back stick after Pakistan had asked for the video referral.
Pakistan made a couple of good but fruitless raids. It was followed by a period of immense Australian pressure. They obtained four penalty corners in space of five minutes. But Imran Butt, who had an outstanding game and the rushers rose to the occasion. Soon, it was Pakistan’s turn and the Australian goal keeper made two successive saves.
It was still all to play for when the last quarter began. Umar Bhutta penetrated beautifully into the opponents circle from right. His back pass from the goal line was squandered by Arslan Qadir. The tense battle continued. Pakistan made a couple of good raids.
The tide turned as Aussies appeared to be in command. With just four minutes left, a superb top of circle reverse shot on turn by Aaron Kleinshcmidt was deftly one touched into the cage by Blake Govers well positioned in front of the goal.
Today, Pakistan appeared well organized in the defence. Up front, they passed the ball around well.
Pakistan: Ajaz Ahmed (9’) Australia: Trent Mittons (12’) and Blake Govers (56’)
The two earlier matches saw surprise results.
India defeated Olympic Champions Argentina 2-1
Hosts Netherlands trounced Belgium 6-1