Hockey World Cup 2018: Reliving 5 of the greatest matches

A young Indian side impressed at Bhubaneswar
A young Indian side impressed at Bhubaneswar
Modified 20 Dec 2018
Top 5 / Top 10

Odisha 2018 will go down as one of the finest Hockey World Cups, of recent times, bringing with it, a mix of ingredients that have added up to make a lasting impression on hockey lovers around the globe.

A fair share of scintillating action, massive upsets, breathtaking goals, and spectacular goalkeeping, all culminated in producing a worthy new champion, while a couple of teams made their mark on the world stage for the first time ever.

France, the lowest-ranked side at Bhubaneswar created ripples by getting the better of Olympic Champions Argentina en route to a historic World Cup quarterfinal, while, the Chinese were not to be left behind and made it to the crossovers after splitting points with both England and Ireland.

The Spanish Red Sticks displayed some magnificent attacking flair and were rather unfortunate to head home early, while Stefan Kermas' German side would have fancied their chances of competing much harder than England did in the semifinals - if only they had managed to make it to the last-four stage.

Colin Batch's Australians may no longer be invincible but continue to be one of the most dominant forces in world hockey - just as Max Caldas' boys' inch closer to emulating the performances of the Dutch women's team.

For the Olympic silver-medalists Belgium, the triumph at Bhubaneswar has been equivalent to nothing short of a fairy tale - rising from relative obscurity, a decade ago, to scaling the absolute peak of world hockey.

Hosts India dared to dream big with a gritty young side bundled with an abundance of talent, and laced with a level of fitness that is now the envy of the top teams in the world - one can only imagine what the same lads can achieve on the world stage in a couple of years' time with enhanced experience and maturity.

We relive five of the best matches from Odisha 2018 - and the magical moments from these, that will forever be etched in the memory of spectators around the world.

#5 England vs China (Pool B encounter)

It might have been a rude awakening for Danny Kerry's boys - but the rest of the hockey world watched in awe as Guo Xiaoping danced his way past a host of English defenders as early as the fifth minute, and displayed admirable ball control at the goalmouth before beating George Pinner.

Pinner - one of the nominees for FIH's Goalkeeper of the Year watched helplessly as Kim Sang-Ryul's side went into an early lead in their first-ever World Cup encounter and the Chinese kept up the attacks at regular intervals.

Mark Gleghorne restored some sanity into the contest by equalizing off a PC just before the end of the first quarter, but Chinese goalkeeper Wang Caiyu refused to allow the English to score a second until the beginning of the final quarter when Liam Ansell finally found the back of the net.

The English bench heaved a sigh of relief and could have hardly have imagined that the worst was still to come.

The Chinese earned a PC with a minute left on the clock, and Du Talake beat Harry Gibson - who had replaced Pinner at the end of the first quarter, to end the match with the scores tied at 2-2.

It was a dream start for the Chinese ranked seventeenth - ten places above England in the FIH World Rankings.

Post the World Cup, the Chinese have now risen three places and are 14th in the world rankings while France - who beat Kim's team in the crossovers have risen five places to be ranked 15th as per the FIH.

Guo Xiaoping's goal was one of the best ever in recent times - but Wang Caiyu's heroics between the posts and Talake's lethal strike at the death will be remembered as one of the defining moments of Odisha 2018.

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Published 20 Dec 2018
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