LONDON (AFP) –
Defending champions the Netherlands conceded two late goals before posting a narrow 3-2 win over ninth-ranked Japan in the Olympic women’s hockey tournament here on Tuesday.
This second successive victory gave the Dutch a maximum six points from two outings in Pool A after their opening 3-0 defeat of Belgium last weekend.
New Zealand soon emulated them with their second win in Pool B, courtesy of a 4-1 victory over South Africa, who have now conceded 11 goals.
In another Pool A match, 2008 Olympic silver medallists China were held to a goalless draw by Belgium. China now have four points from two matches, while Belgium secured their first point in two games.
On a rainy morning, the Dutch, almost casually, built up a 3-0 lead by the 43rd minute, and then conceded two in the next 10, to set up a tense finish.
Kim Lammers scored twice, in the fourth and 30th minute, and also set up her team’s third goal for Ellen Hoog.
Now with four goals, Lammers is the early leader in the scorers’ table.
Japan’s goals came from Rika Komazawa in the 45th minute and Aki Mitsuhashi in the 53rd, but an equaliser proved elusive in a match where both sides created additional chances in the last 15 minutes.
“It was a game of two extremes. It was too extreme for me, it was very good and very bad,” said Max Caldas, an Argentine coaching the Dutch team.
“We got very sloppy and it looked like we were not interested in the game. Japan hadn’t created any chances but we lost control of ourselves,” he said.
New Zealand avenged their loss to South Africa that pushed them to 12th spot in the playoffs at the Beijing Olympics.
But the African champions seemed more irritated by the way the technical official ruled on their video referral requests than by the final scoreline.
“We were disappointed with the video referral,” said South Africa’s Pietie Coetzee, the leading goal score in international hockey. “It’s hard to believe that they can’t see it on the video. Then you question why do we have it.”
New Zealand captain Kyla Sharland scored two field goals in the 29th and 61st minutes, while the others came from penalty corner conversions by Charlotte Harrison in the second minute and Clarissa Eshuis in the 22nd.
South Africa scored a consolation goal in the 52nd minute through a penalty stroke conversion by Coetzee.