Pool B was tight to the very end as all four teams began the day with every chance of winning the pool or failing to qualify. In the end, it was a workmanlike performance from England that consigned China to the 13-16th place play-offs, with New Zealand running out winners of the Pool after beating India in a thrilling match.
Pool D was a more straightforward affair, with Pool leaders Argentina stamping their authority with a comprehensive win over fourth-placed Canada. Spain took the second spot after a win over Korea.
The results mean that New Zealand and Argentina join Netherlands and Australia in getting a few days’ rest as they qualify directly to the quarter-finals. In the cross-over matches, England will play Korea and India take on Spain. China will play the loser of Belgium versus Chile and Canada will play either Spain or India.
FIH Women's Hockey World Cup 2022: India Rue Missed Chances in Loss to New Zealand, Will Play Crossover for Quarter Final Spot
England vs China (Pool B)
After a tight and nervous opening 10 minutes, England took the lead in this vitally important Pool B match through a penalty corner from Grace Balsdon. England had made a quick break through the speed and skill of Lily Owsley and the resulting penalty corner was dispatched with precision by Balsdon. In a double blow for China, the team also lost its referral after incorrectly challenging whether the goal was scored through dangerous play.
Owsley was at it again a few minutes later as she beat two defenders before releasing the ball to Tessa Howard. The forward unleashed a vicious shot but Liu Ping was able to make a solid save.
As the half counted down, it was Owsley who continued to plague the China defence. She weaved through the defence and slipped the ball onto a foot to win another penalty corner. This time it was Giselle Ansley who stepped up and sent the ball flying deep into the corner of the goal.
Gu Bingfeng had a chance to reduce the deficit with a penalty corner at the end of the half but her attempted variation was well dealt with by the England defence.
The second half saw England start very energetically. The links between Owsley, Howard, Hannah Martin and Ellie Rayer were speedy and impressive and they kept the China defence working hard to contain their attacks.
China had a chance to change the direction of the game with eight minutes left when they won a rare penalty corner. The trap at the top of the circle was poor and the ball was cleared. It was almost possible to feel the belief ebbing from the Asia side.
China worked to the end but were unable to find a way past the experienced defensive line-up of Hollie Pearne-Webb, Laura Unsworth, Anna Toman and Giselle Ansley.
Player of the Match Lily Owsley (ENG) said: ‘I am so happy. China were going to get the brunt of our performance after our match against New Zealand. We are up and running now. We wanted to come out hard and China are a good side. Alyson (Annan) has done a good job with them. Both teams showed a lot of fight.’
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Argentina vs Canada (Pool C)
A sumptuous display of goalscoring by Argentina sealed the world’s number two side’s place at the top of Pool C. Las Leonas received a bit of a wake-up call when Canada scored in the fourth minute to take a 1-0 lead.
The Canadian goal was scored by Grace Delmotte in a great personal moment for the striker as this was her first senior international goal.
Argentina, as a collective, took a deep breath and then proceeded to decimate their fellow PAHF nation. Julieta Jankunas opened Las Leonas scoring with a wonderful jinking run that she finished with a lifted ball into the Canada goal.
Minutes later and a ball from Sofia Toccalino found Agustina Albertarrio. She sent a superb cross to Victoria Granatto who fired the ball home.
Five minutes later and Maria Granatto scored from a penalty corner to give Argentina a 3-1 lead going into the break.
Despite the scoreline, Canada had defended well, with some incredibly brave running at penalty corners and some innovative goalkeeping from Marcia Laplante.
However, Argentina found their scoring groove. Albertarrio stole the ball from a Canadian defender, rushed into the circle and smashed the ball into the goal. Maria Forcherio added her name to the scoresheet from a penalty corner before Agustina Gorzelany added two fabulous drag-flick shots to take her personal tally to six goals at the tournament.
Despite the score, there were moments of defensive brilliance as LaPlante made a diving stick-side save on another booming flick from Gorzelany, while at the post, Kathleen Leahy denied a penalty corner blast from Valentina Raposo. From there, Johanssen charged out to deny back-to-back penalty corner attempts from Gorzelany and an option to Raposo.
It was not all one-way traffic. n the final minutes, Canada created their own pressure. Brienne Stairs forced the Argentine defence to clear the ball off the back line for a Canadian penalty corner. McManus had her initial sweep hit the foot of the first runner and the second and third re-awards were saved by the keeper, Clara Barberi and then blocked and cleared.
Player of the Match was Victoria Granatto (ARG).
India vs New Zealand (Pool B)
The second Pool B match of the day was an intriguing encounter between India, who arrived at the World Cup in good form, and New Zealand, who had turned up with very little international experience in recent months.
India took the lead early in the match through Katariya Vandana, who continued to show why she is such a rated player. Lalremsiami struck the ball towards the goal and Vandana was in a great position to tip it into the goal.
India pushed for a second and looked to be taking charge of the match but then Olivia Merry stepped up for a New Zealand penalty corner and her hard strike ensured Blacksticks were back in the game. Tessa Jopp added to the New Zealand scoreline in the dying minutes of the first half when she scrambled the ball home.
Frances Davies extended New Zealand’s lead with another great penalty corner routine but the rest of the third quarter was all about the India attack. Gurjit Kaur had chances from a series of penalty corners but Brooke Roberts and her determined defence put everything on the line to keep India out.
The breakthrough came for India in the 43rd minute. New Zealand lost a player with a green card and India took full advantage. A beautiful ball was played through the New Zealand defence and Lalremsiami was on hand to tip the ball home.
The final quarter saw more of the same from India. They won 12 penalty corners but either failed to follow their routine or came up against a stalwart defence that wasn’t prepared to concede the lead.
And then New Zealand gave themselves the cushion they had been seeking. A quick break, led by Aniwake Haumaha, earned the Blacksticks a penalty corner and Olivia Merry made it two from two.
It was a case of ‘what could have been’ when Gurjit Kaur finally rifled home a penalty corner to bring the scores to 4-3. The whole routine was perfect and Gurjit was able to show her class as a drag-flicker.
Player of the Match, Brooke Roberts, NZL said, ‘I am so thrilled how the girls in front of me fought through. Now we can have a bit more rest. It means so much to our coaches and our players. We took every game right to the end. We came here and played lots of friendlies in the build-up so we were very well prepared.’
Spain vs Korea (Pool C)
The battle for second place in this pool [behind Australia] was an uncompromising affair and also a very fittingly entertaining match to end the pool stages. Spain took the lead when Sara Barrios played a neat pass to Begona Garcia, who made no mistake as she slotted it past Lee Jinmin.
The Korean goal was not just an important equaliser, it was also the 2,000th goal scored in all the FIH Women’s World Cups. The goal was scored by Lee Seungiu after a quick counterattack by Korea.
The second quarter saw Spain ramp up the pressure. The penalty corner count was mounting and there was a sense of growing frustration that the ball was not hitting the target.
That tension was eased by a second goal for Spain. Xantal Gine sent a lovely penalty corner shot into the Korean goal and the spectators and the players visibly relaxed a little.
The next opportunity came when Marta Segu burst through the Korean defence and the ball fell to Lucia Jiminez. She, in turn, sent a pass to Garcia, whose airborne shot flew over the crossbar.
Spain went into the break knowing that they had missed a heap of opportunities to put the game outside Korea’s reach and Head Coach Adrian Lock would definitely have asked his players for much higher levels of efficiency in the Korea circle.
Lucia Jimenez wasted no time in answering her coach’s call. The player, who is no stranger to scoring spectacular goals, burst into the circle and fired a mid-height shot into the goal.
Despite a huge disparity in possession and the number of shots on goal, Korea made chances of their own. A sequence of penalty corners in the middle of the fourth quarter put a temporary halt to Spain’s attacking play. Melanie Garcia was called into action and pulled off a string of good saves.
A fine solo effort from Sara Barrios gave Spain their fourth and final goal. The forward picked up the ball on the edge of the circle, dodged one way and then the other to get past her defender and then shot with conviction into the goal.
That was the final score of the game and the final whistle signalled the end of the pool stages. All attention now turns to the cross-over matches which take place on Saturday and Sunday.
That goal and a fine overall performance meant the Player of the Match award went to Sara Barrios of Spain.
The action in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup continues on Saturday 9 July, with all the action taking place at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen. Germany will play South Africa in the first cross-over at 17:00, followed by Belgium against Chile at 19:30.
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