MELBOURNE, Dec 6: Pakistan marched into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy after stunning defending Olympic champion and world No. 1 Germany 2-1 in the first quarter-final on Thursday.
Their win was due largely to Shakeel Abbasi, who dominated and scored both of his team’s goals.
Moritz Fuerste gave the Germans initial lead when he scored in the ninth minute of the match.
The first half ended with the scoreline being 1-0.
Shakeel Abbasi equalised for Pakistan four minutes into the second half on a follow-up play after a penalty-corner opportunity.
He struck again in the 50th minute to give Pakistan the decisive 2-1 lead.
Pakistan’s second goal was full of controversy.
Germany referred it claiming it should not have been awarded as the ball initially came off the back of the stick of a Pakistani player before making its way to Shakeel.
The video proved inconclusive with the goal standing despite the German protests.
Shakeel said he believed his team could continue to do well in the tournament.
“In the last three matches I didn’t score and I am a mentor for my side so I realised I had to score,” he said.
“If we have confidence and play hard and have dedication, we have the potential to win against every team,” Shakeel said.
The green-shirts are now one win away from their first Champions Trophy final since 1998. They will take on the Netherlands in Saturday’s semi-finals.
The Dutch progressed to the final four by easily disposing of New Zealand 2-0.
After scoring first through Jeroen Hertzberger (13th minute), Netherlands struggled to find a way through until a brilliant run into the circle by Sander de Wijn for Billy Bakker (45th min) to convert for a two-goal cushion and passage into the semi-finals.
Dutch coach Paul van Ass said he didn’t feel his team played their best.
“It wasn’t the best game from us here. It wasn’t a fun game to watch, but maybe this weekend we will see a lot of nice matches,” he said.
“The test will come this weekend when we play against high pressure. That is what we are here for so I’m looking forward to that.”
The remaining two teams which reached the last-four stage were India and Australia.
India, chasing their first Trophy medal after winning the bronze at the 1982 event in Amstelveen, edged out Belgium 1-0.
Unlike their other wins at the tournament, India’s win over Belgium was hard fought as the Belgians controlled much of the match, however, they were unable to convert many opportunities.
The Indians made them pay, scoring a goal against the run of play through Nithin Thimmaiah in the 13th minute.
Indian coach Michael Nobbs praised his team’s defence.
“It’s an amazing feeling, they have worked really hard. I didn’t think we played that well today but our defence was amazing,” Nobbs said.
“It’s something I haven’t seen from an Indian defence in years, but I thought they played their hearts out.”
Australia’s hopes of a fifth straight title remained on target after beating England 2-0.
Australia saw off the English threat with a first-half goal to Jamie Dwyer (16th min) and a final goal to Chris Ciriello (53rd min) sealing the match.
“We were hoping to work into the tournament and tonight was probably our best game,” Dwyer said.
“In saying that we haven’t let a goal in three games so defensively we are doing well, it’s just about creating opportunities up the front.”
Results (quarter-finals): Pakistan 2 Germany 1 Netherlands 2 New Zealand 0 India 1 Belgium 0 Australia 2 England 0 —Agencies