MELBOURNE, Dec 9: Australia clinched a record fifth straight Champions Trophy field hockey title with a 2-1 extra-time win over the Netherlands in the final in Melbourne on Sunday.
Pakistan won the bronze medal, fighting back from a goal down to beat India 3-2, Belgium took the fifth place with a 5-4 victory over Germany while New Zealand took seventh place in the eight-team tournament prevailing 3-2 against England.
Second-ranked Australia went some way to erasing the pain of their bronze medal at this year’s London Olympics with victory over the world number three Dutch in a tense final.
After dominating much of the match the Australians were frustrated by Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann with their many shots on goal. Sander Baart gave the Dutch a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute before Russell Ford equalised for Australia in the 31st.
Australia had the chance to go in front before half-time, but the penalty stroke was missed by Jamie Dwyer.
The Kookaburras dominated the second-half, but the home side could not break through and the game went to extra-time.
Australia continued to push in the golden goal period with Kieran Govers firing in a brilliant shot from the top of the circle, finally beating Stockmann to give Australia victory before their home fans.
“It was pretty important for me,” Australia veteran Jamie Dwyer said of winning the tournament after losing in the Olympic semi-finals to eventual gold medallists Germany in August. “I guess after London we had a few doubts going through our heads, both individually and as a team. To come out, and play like we did this week and not give the opposition many chances, and enjoy it as well, it’s great.”
Pakistan walked away with their first medal in the event in eight years thanks to Mohammad Ateeq’s drag flick with five minutes left against arch-rivals India.
Three-time Champions Trophy winners Pakistan’s last medal came at Lahore in 2004, where too they won the bronze by overcoming India in the play-off.
“This win means a lot to us,” said Pakistan’s Shakeel Abassi. “We haven’t had a medal at the Champions Trophy since 2004, so it is great to be back in the top three.”
India’s VR Raghunath netted in the seventh minute but Mohammad Rizwan Senior equalised midway through the first half, before Pakistan took the lead early in the second with a neat goal by Shafqat Rasool.
Both sides had their chances in a free-flowing match, before Ateeq put the game out of India’s reach in the 66th minute, when he sent a carpet shot into the right corner to give Pakistan a 3-1 lead.India forced two penalty corners in the last two minutes and Rupinder Pal Singh converted the last of their five penalty corners with a firm shot in the 70th minute, but it only proved to be a consolation.
It marked a disappointing end to the tournament for India, who were out to break a 30-year Champions Trophy medal drought but were overwhelmed by Pakistan’s attacking potency.But their coach Michael Nobbs was focusing on the positives.
“It’s a good effort to make the semi-finals at the Champions Trophy after the disappointing show at the Olympics," said Nobbs. “A bronze medal would have been wonderful, but we did not do enough today.”
Goals from Sebastien Dockier (2), Tom Boon, John-John Dohmen and Alexandre de Saedeleer secured Belgium’s victory against Germany for whom Patrick Schmidt, Benedikt Fuerk, Mats Grambusch and Moritz Polk scored.
“It was our goal to finish fifth,” de Saedeleer said.
Nicholas Wilson hit a brace and Stephen Jenness scored one for New Zealand, with Darren Cheesman and Barry Middleton putting their names on the score sheet for England.
Results: Gold medal match: Australia 2 Netherlands 1 Bronze medal playoff: Pakistan 3 India 2 5th-6th playoff: Belgium 5 Germany 4 7th-8th playoff: New Zealand 3 England 2—Agencies