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Pool Play Takes Shape as Netherlands, Argentina and Belgium Win Big, While India, England Draw and Korea Edge Canada With Late Goal – SportsMediaz


Netherlands stormed their way to the top of Pool A after a 3-1 win over Germany, while India and England had an exciting 1-1 draw in Pool B play. Belgium took down South Africa 4-1 with double goals from each of Stephanie Vanden Borre and Charlotte Englebert. Pool C saw an impressive performance from Canada but Korea found responses to come back and take the game 3-2, while Argentina blasted Spain 4-1.

Favourites Netherlands and Argentina sit atop their respective pools with two wins, while with only one game played each in Pool B and Pool D it’s still anyone’s game.

FIH Women's Hockey World Cup: India Hold England to 1-1 Draw

Belgium v South Africa (Pool D)

It was a game of penalty corners as four of five goals in the game came off set pieces as Belgium took their opening game in Pool D play 4-1 over South Africa. Despite the score margin, the Red Panthers had 15 penalty corners in the game to South Africa’s three. Stephanie Vanden Borre put in two penalty corner goals in the second quarter to give Belgium a cushion. Belgium retained most of the possession but couldn’t find a way in free play past South African keeper Phumelela Mbande.

South Africa had few attacks but were able to garner a penalty corner in the 24th minute after a fast break. Almost catching Belgium by surprise, the ball was very quickly slapped down the pipe and Jean-Leigh du Toit’s shot beat Aisling D’hooghe between the pads to cut Belgium’s lead in half. It was a small resolve though as Belgium still dominated the second half. Credit to Mbande who continued to stymie waves of attack including several penalty corners and a stunner of a backhand from Charlotte Englebert.

Englebert was on fire in the fourth quarter and she buried a penalty corner variation after injecting the ball to make it 3-1 in the 53rd minute. More penalty corners rained on South Africa including a rebound attempt from Vanden Borre that rang the left-hand post. Late in the game, a bit of pressure on Lisa-Marie Deetlefs forced a turnover at the stroke mark right to the stick of Englebert but Mbande slid out to create congestion. In the dying minutes, the eventual player of the match, Englebert, was there to blast in a rebound for a fourth goal in the 57th minute. The 4-1 win gave Belgium the three points they needed to start their tournament on a high.

“We are really happy,” said captain Vanden Borre after the match. “It was our first goal of the tournament to get the three points so now on to the next one. We need some more energy for the full 60 minutes to keep on playing forward.”

UEFA Women's Euro England 2022: Preview

England v India (Pool B)

It was an action-packed opening game for England and India who drew 1-1 in Poll B play. India had a penalty corner in the opening minute but the England rushers were up to the task. While India seemed to put a little more attacking pressure, it was England who were first on the board. A quick rush down the right side allowed Lily Owsley to feed Isabelle Petter in traffic. The ball came across the circle in the air and Petter’s reaching touch effortlessly redirected the ball into the mesh for a 1-0 England lead. India didn’t seem phased as they responded with a penalty corner in the other end. Kaur Gurjit flicked high stick side and the ball pinged off the post but eventually ended in a re-award. Shona McCallin was there to clear the second attempt.

India came out in the second quarter again with attacking pressure as Kaur Gurjit’s penalty corner delivery flew just under the stick of injector Kaur Navneet in the opening moments. Sophie Hamilton then forced a save out of Indian keeper Savita only to see the end-to-end play continue with an Indian back-hand shot flying high and wide of the England goal. Finally, India were able to deservingly find their equalizer. A penalty corner strike from Monika was saved by the stick of a sprawling Maddie Hinch and Katariya Vandana was there to flick in the rebound and level the game before halftime.

It was a quiet third quarter with England holding most of the attack and possession, but Savita was not required in action. Just before the third-quarter hooter though, India had a ball bouncing in the circle and some quality footwork allowed Neha to one-time blast the ball on her back hand but Maddie Hinch made the save.

England continued to dominate but were unable to generate a quality chance on goal. India had fewer chances but looked just as dangerous. A bouncing ball beat Hinch and was on target for a wide-open Sonika but the ball hit her in the 57th minute. England thought they had a penalty corner in the final minute but a video referral overturned it. The game remained equal 1-1, a deserving score line as both keepers were superb.

Isabelle Petter was named player of the match and said commented after the game: ‘It was always a tough first game against India. They’re a class side. We were happy with the draw and would have wanted the win but happy to take the point and on to the next game now. We’ve got a rest day tomorrow and then we will focus on our next game against China.’

Korea v Canada (Pool C)

All of the action were in the first and last minutes of the game as Canada and Korea traded goals with two goals in each of the opening two minutes and final three minutes. Despite playing in their own end for a lot of the match, it was Korea that came out with the 3-2 victory to serve heartbreak to the Canadians.

Korea wasted no time earning a penalty corner in the first 30 seconds of the game as pressure forced Natalie Sourisseau to clear the ball high into her teammate. Kim Minji flick rocketed just above the backboard, stick high of Canadian keeper Rowan Harris, to give the Koreans a 1-0 lead. A minute later Canada was able to respond. A high aerial from Karli Johanssen was mishandled by the Korean defence allowing Brienne Stairs to pounce on it. Stairs fed the ball cleverly to Maddie Secco, who showed great composure to curl and bury the ball for the equalizer. Canada weathered two more Korean penalty corners in the opening quarter and then the WolfPack found themselves at the other end, earning a penalty corner after a video referral. Johanssen’s flick was swatted away by the glove of Lee Jinmin.

Canada continued to pressure and almost found the go-ahead when a back-hand cross from Sourisseau just skipped under the diving stick of Hannah Haughn at the back post in the 21st minute. Korea, who seemed docile for most of the opening moments, found some attacking strides and captain Eunbi Cheon had a reverse-stick blast that was saved well from close range by Harris.

It was a calm third quarter with a few penalty corner chances and some stingy defensive work in both ends. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Korea nabbed the lead. Seona Kim showed some brilliant composure in the circle to receive and blast one from close range past Harris after some superb transition through midfield. Canada striker Stairs turned up the heat through the final moments of game earning Canada an important penalty corner with under five minutes to go. Johanssen’s flick was saved on the post by Jungeun Seo but the play resulted in a re-award. This time Canada unleashed a brilliant set piece slip to Sara McManus and then in to the deserving Stairs, whose deflection tied the game 2-2.

Hard work from Eunbi Cheon tied up Harris in the Canadian circle and Jungeun Seo was there to tap the ball into the empty goal to end any further Canadian momentum. Canada had another penalty corner denied by Korea and then a back-hand shot by Jordyn Faiczak but they just could not find the equalizer. Korea hung on to their 3-2 lead to climb past Canada in Pool B play.

Following the game Seona Kim said: ‘We couldn’t have won that game without all the players on the team. We will try our best in every moment. We don’t know what is going to happen to next but we will try our best. We have three more days so if there are any issues or errors we will try our best to sort those out until then.’

Germany v Netherlands (Pool A)

The Netherlands soared to the top of Pool A after a 3-1 victory over Germany. Despite the score line it was a very tight match up until the final 12 minutes of the game. There was never going to be any doubt about the pace and class that would be on display between Germany (WR: 5) and Netherlands (WR: 1). It was equally special for Frederique Matla who celebrated her 100th international on home soil.

The Netherlands got off to their usual fiery start showcasing their size and strength on the ball to keep German keeper Julia Sonntag on her toes. In the 13th minute, Marloes Keetels ran the left baseline and her cross was stopped by Selin Oruz but the ball bounced back to Keetels who paced it under Julia Sonntag for the opening goal. The Dutch should have gone up 2-0 when Lidewij Welten spun her check-in midfield and then brilliantly fed Laurien Leurik. With all the time in the world, it was unimaginable that Leurik’s shot could blast wide but it was to the relief of Sonntag.

Chances were again few and far between in the second quarter but it was Germany Lena Micheel who blasted a ball on target for a sliding Hannah Granitzki but they couldn’t connect. Germany also had a chance when Charlotte Stapenhorst earned a back-hand shot that was then denied by Dutch keeper Josine Koning. Corners happened on both ends but the first runners, Kira Horn for Germany and Margot van Geffen for the Netherlands, showed some fearless defensive efforts.

Finally, in the 48th minute, a nifty pass from Welten gave space for Freeke Moes to one-time the ball in and lift the Dutch 2-0. You could see the momentum break in favour of the Oranje and then Maria Verschoor was there to tap in a rebound to make it 3-0 just two minutes later. Horn did well to earn Germany a late penalty corner and Die Danas made no mistake. Sonja Zimmerman slipped the ball wide to Nike Lorenz, whose low flick broke the shutout of Koning. The Germans pulled their goalkeeper in the final minutes but couldn’t overcome the Dutch power. The 3-1 victory lift the Dutch to the top of Pool A.

“It was a real battlefield,” said Marloes Keetels, named Player of the Match. “We had to fight for every ball just like the Germans did. Maybe it is because we are neighbours that our games are always hard but it was a nice match to play.”

Spain v Argentina (Pool C)

There was no shortage of passion and pride on the line as Argentina and Spain were scoreless through the opening 39 minutes of play. Los Leonas finally found their strides late in the third quarter and eventually took the game 4-1 over the hosts.

Both teams had penalty corner chances in the get-going as Agustina Gorzelany had her first flick saved by the glove of Melanie Garcia in the eighth minute of play. Julieta Jankunas batted the rebound above her head towards goal but just as brilliantly Clara Ycart cleared it out of the air and away from trouble. Spain’s Xantal Gine had a penalty corner flick less than a minute later, but her shot went high and wide of the Argentine goal.

Argentina thought they had the opening goal with two seconds left in the first quarter as a penalty corner delivery from Valentina Costa was deflected in my Eugenia Trinchinetti. Good use of the self-referral saw Scotland umpire Sarah Wilson overturn the corner as the ball didn’t come out of the circle. Argentina had more penalty corner chances including a rebound attempt from Maria Granatto where she popped it up and then tried to bat it over her head and in but the ball went just wide of the goal.

Spain’s best chance came in the third quarter when a hard pass into the Argentine circle was deflected perfectly to Lucia Jimenez. With only keeper Belen Succi to beat, Jimenez just couldn’t find a way past the stacked pads. Moments later it was Jimenez, this time in the Spanish circle, who fouled Maria Granatto to force a penalty stroke for Argentina. Gorzelany made no mistake burying it glove side, high on Garcia for the opening goal. Less than a minute later and Oliva’s stick foul on a charging Agustina Albertarrio put the Leonas back at the top of the circle. This time, Valentina Raposo’s straight hit at goal ricocheted under and off the pads of Garcia to make it 2-0 for Argentina.

The goals kept coming as Gorzelany unleashed one of her best flicks of recent months, beating Garcia high stick side with mind-blowing precision and pace for a 3-0 Argentina lead. Spain turned some gears on and, with Agostina Alonso off with a yellow card, were able to get on the board. Begoña Garcia finished on a penalty corner to leave Spain trailing 3-1. With 20 seconds to go, Maria Granatto got the slightest of touches on a Gorzelany drag-flick to seal the game 4-1.

Following the game, Gorzelany, now with four goals in the tournament, said: “It was a really tough game. In the beginning, it was really close. They were defending their best to not allow us to enter but soring the stroke we opened the game. We were then more relaxed and then we got the penalty corner and I think we deserved the win. It was beautiful to see so many Argentina fans in the crowd here in Spain.”

There is a rest day tomorrow, Monday 4 July, and then the action in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup continues on Tuesday 5 July. At the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, Pool A’s Ireland will play Chile at 14:00, followed by Pool B’s India and China at 16:30, and Pool B’s New Zealand vs England at 19:30.

At the Estadi Olimpic de Terrassa in Spain, Pool D’s Japan plays South Africa at 18:00, followed by Belgium playing Australia (Pool D) at 21:30.

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