Former world Hockey champions but currently world number 17 Pakistan displayed best of their Hockey skills on Saturday to hold World number 3 Netherlands for a four-all draw in first of two-match Olympic Hockey Qualifiers.
Pakistan got the opportunity to take the early lead when they were awarded a penalty corner on the 5th minute of the first quarter of the match in Amstelveen.
And, the Green Shirts got the lead as a fizzing low penalty corner effort from Mubashar Ali rattles the Dutch back-board, giving the visitors the early advantage.
Immediately after Pakistan’s lead, the Dutch made counter-attack but Pakistan showed strong defensive discipline to fail the initial efforts by the hosts to score an equalizer, including to penalty corner efforts to keep the lead intact at the end of the first quarter.
Pakistan kept the ball possession in the first five minutes of the second quarter but a penalty stroke from Mink van der Weerden leveled the game for the Netherlands in the 20th minute as his smashed towards the right post after Pakistan goalkeeper Ali Amjad fouled Terrance Pieters.
With little over a minute to the equalizer, the Netherlands took the lead thru a stunning field goal by Bjorn Kellerman. Kellerman powered into the circle from the left smash the stunning backhand effort across the face of goal to sensational finish.
However, the lead couldn’t last long for the hosts as Pakistan got successive penalty corners in the 25th minute with Ghazanfar Ali converting it into the goal for Green Shirts to make it 2-2 ahead of the half-time whistle.
Pakistan once again got the lead in 38th minute when they were awarded a penalty corner and the green-shirts didn’t let the opportunity go in vain. The low drag-flick from the top of the circle is touched home brilliantly at the left post by captain Rizwan senior.
The visitors entered the field for the last quarter with 3-2 lead and kept it till 52nd minute when Robbert Kempermen scored the equalizer for the Netherlands, making it 3-3.
Both the team displayed skillful hockey in final five minutes of the game, Pakistan made desperate attempts to take the lead and they got the success when a penalty corner was awarded to them two minutes before the final whistle.
Pakistan scored their fourth penalty corner of the game to take a 4-3 lead before the final few moments of the contest as Mubashir Ali netted his second goal of the match thru a superb drag-flick which crashes against the backboard.
As Pakistan was heading towards final whistle with 4-3 lead, the referee awarded a penalty corner to the hosts in the last few seconds of the game allowing Mink van der Weerden to score a late equalizer.
With the first match being ended in 4-4 draw, both the teams will face each other once again on Sunday in the second leg of the qualifier and winner of the match will confirm the berth to Tokyo Olympics.
Both the teams are presently equal at the points and goals and If the equality remains in 60 minutes of play on Sunday, a shoot-out competition will be played to establish the winner.