Champions Trophy 2018, Day 2 : India continue the winning momentum, Netherlands rout Belgium
Day 2 of the final edition of the FIH Champions Trophy 2018 proved to be as exciting and thrilling as the opening day, as hosts, Netherlands jackhammered Belgium by 6-1, while Team India, riding high on their whitewash over Pakistan, stunned Olympic champions Argentina by 2-1.
Recovering from a shocking draw at the hands of Belgium, the defending champions Australia proved their class, snatching victory from the hands of Pakistan in the dying seconds of the game, as star player Blake Govers chipped in a slick shot into the goal, handing Pakistan their second consecutive loss.
India vs. Argentina : Olympic champions outclassed by the old masters:-
The opening match of the day was a thrilling encounter to start with. The current Olympic champions, Argentina, were competing against the sport's most successful team ever, and eight times Olympic champion, Team India. Led by Sardara Singh, who was playing his 300th international match, the Indians outfoxed the current Olympic champions in every aspect of the game, defeating them by 2-1.
Riding high on the fantastic success of the opening match, the Indians didn't let Argentina have their way, and scored two quick goals in the second quarter. It was to the credit of star drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, who scored the consolation goal in the closing seconds of the first half.
While the second half could've exposed the chinks of Indian armor, it instead witnessed a rejuvenated defence. Notorious as India's Achilles Heel to higher glory, the Indian defenders continued the momentum of the opening match, denying the much-needed equalizer to Argentina and maintaining the lead to the end. The newfound heroics shall now be put to test when India meets the defending champions Australia in the next match.
Netherlands vs. Belgium : The Dutch onslaught crushes 'The Red Lions'
Rated as the trump card of this trophy, Belgium was in for a rude shock, as hosts Netherlands, who narrowly lost to Argentina by 1-2, comprehensively routed them by 6-1 to bounce back in style.
The onslaught began in the very first quarter, when Seve Van Ass, son of the famous ex Indian coach Paul Van Ass, opened the Dutch account with a brilliant field goal. He was quickly followed Roen Bovendeert, who shocked everyone with two consecutive field goals within a single minute, i.e. the 6th minute, extending the lead to 3-0 just 6 minutes into the game.
Hardly had the Belgians recovered from the onslaught, when Netherlands went a step further in the second quarter, when Jeroen Hertzberger and Mirco Pruyser struck two crisp goals, extending the lead to an unassailable lead of 5-0. To add further salt to Belgium wounds, star player Loick Luypaert was shown a yellow card for being too offensive on the field.
John John Dohmen scored the lone goal for Belgium, even as Hertzberger struck the final nail in the Belgian coffin in the 58th minute. With that, Netherlands have regained their momentum and are in the fray for the finals of the FIH Champions Trophy. The hosts shall now meet Pakistan in their third league match on 26th of June.
Australia vs. Pakistan : The defending champions show their class
The penultimate match, however, brought the defending champions Australia back into action. Initially held to 1-1 by Pakistan, Australia bounced back in style to snatch victory in the dying seconds of the match.
Pakistan, comprehensively routed by India in the opening match, tried to bounce back, and scored the first goal barely 9 minutes into the first quarter when Ajaz Ahmad struck the ball into the Australian goalpost. Stung by the goal, Australians bounced back and soon proved why they're the best on the field.
Barely 3 minutes after the first goal, Trent Mitton shot the ball crisply into the goalpost, equalizing the game. For the next two quarters, however, none of the two teams could score. This could've continued till the last quarter, had Blake Govers not struck the ball in the 56th minute into the Pakistani goalpost, handing Pakistan their 2nd consecutive loss, and putting their chances of making it to the finals of the Champions Trophy in jeopardy.
The Kookaburras shall now meet a resurgent India on 27th of June, in order to stay in contention for the finals. Following a day's rest, the teams shall meet up as follows:-
- 26 June - Argentina vs. Belgium
- 26 June - Netherlands vs. Pakistan
- 27 June - India vs. Australia