34th Champions Trophy: Pakistan shock Olympic champions Germany 2-1
Pakistan sprang the biggest surprise of the 34th FIH Champions Trophy hockey tournament, slamming the exit door on reigning Olympics champions and world number one Germany with a highly impressive come-from-behind 2-1 victory to book their spot in the semifinals.
The green shirts seized the early initiative from the start, essaying regular forays into the German goal but poor finishing proved to be their undoing.
Centre-forward Shakeel Abbasi missed a couple of scoring opportunities even as Germany struggled to stitch incisive moves upfront.
It was against the run of play that Germany took the lead in the 9th minute through captain Moritz Fuerste – who is only one of the three players from the London Olympics team, where they won the coveted gold.
Germany may have failed to inspire confidence in the Pakistan striking circle, but the green shirts continued their offensive ways but were kept at bay by the Germans, who went into half time with a 1-0 lead.
Pakistan, ranked number nine in the world, look fired up in the second half. Abbassi – a veteran of 277 internationals – brought his side into the contest, pulling off the equalizer in the 39th minute to inject more excitement into the game.
The vastly experienced centre-forward put his side ahead when he rattled the cage in the 50th minute.
Germans asked for a video review of the goal but it was ruled as a valid one, and triggered celebrations among the Pakistan supporters at the State Netball Hockey Centre.
Pakistan pressed on the accelerator in a bid to increase the goal cushion but loose finishing denied them the opportunity of pulling off any insurance goal.
This is the first time that Pakistan has reached the Champions Trophy semifinals since 2004.
The win was Pakistan’s 10th win over Germany at the Champions Trophy in 28 meetings between the two sides. Germany had won 12 twelve of them, while six had ended in draws.
For Germany, their poor record at the Champions Trophy over the last few years continues. They have not won the elite tournament since 2007. They had finished fourth and fifth in the 2010 and 2011 editions respectively.
Pakistan will now play the winner of the Netherlands-New Zealand quarterfinal match.