Pakistan beat Belgium to notch first Champions Trophy win
MELBOURNE: Pakistan’s hockey team recorded their first win of the Champions Trophy as they defeated Belgium 2-0 in their second Group B match in Melbourne on Sunday.
Abdul Haseem Khan broke the deadlock with just fifteen minutes remaining in the game and Shafqat Rasool sealed three points for the Greenshirts just before the final whistle.
Pakistan started brightly in the first half, creating a lot of opportunities but failed to convert them into goals. Belgium responded with pace and Pakistan’s defence put up a much better showing than they had against the Netherlands in the opening match of the tournament which Pakistan lost 3-1.
Pakistan Hockey Federation’s recent decision to hand over team selection to the coaching staff in the wake of a seventh place finish at the London Olympics finally bore positive results as the Greenshirts put up a commanding performance.
Belgium had many chances to score but an impressive performance by goalkeeper Imran Butt kept them at bay. The result leaves the Belgians as the only winless team in Pool B while Pakistan still have a chance to finish on top of the pool after Australia and Netherlands played out a goalless draw.
“Yesterday we actually played good hockey but we missed our chances. Today we missed some chances but we managed to score as well, so this is very good experience for our young players,” Shakeel Abbasi said.
Pakistan play Australia in their next match on Tuesday.
In the day’s other matches, England created history by defeating Germany for the first time at the eight-nation tournament 4-1, while India remained unbeaten as they downed New Zealand 4-2.
Number two ranked Australia will be particularly frustrated with the result given they dominated much of the game, failing to convert numerous penalty corner opportunities against third-rated Dutch.
Having eight penalty corners to only one, Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann proved to be the difference, producing several magnificent goal saves.
Australian penalty corner specialist Kieran Govers said it was frustrating finishing with blanks despite dominating play.
“We need to make more of our chances, we are creating them but the goalkeeper had a good game but that is no excuse,” Govers said.
“We still need to put some goals in after the number of circle penetrations we had.”
Stockmann said despite his brilliant game he was disappointed his team didn’t come away with the win.
“Zero goals against is always the goal for a goalkeeper, but it is a team performance and we didn’t win so that is disappointing,” he said.
Earlier England pulled off an upset against the world number one Germans.
It was the first time England had defeated Germany at the Champions Trophy and they controlled the match from the opening whistle, scoring their first goal through Adam Dixon on six minutes.
England continued to press Germany and scored again through Harry Martin in the 10th minute.
Things improved slightly when Germany pulled one back four minutes later through an own goal, but England regained their two-goal buffer with an own goal two minutes before half time.
The Germans lost their discipline throughout the second half, with their inexperienced line up producing many sloppy tackles.
England rounded it off with a fourth goal to Darren Cheesman and captain Barry Middleton revelled in finally beating Germany.
“You have never seen a bad German team. Whatever tournament they go to however experimental it is they are a good team,” he said.