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Pakistan sneak into World Cup crossover round

Updated December 10, 2018

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BHUBANESWAR: Pakistan’s Umar Bhutta (R) fights for the ball with the Netherlands’ Lars Balk during their World Cup Pool ‘D’ match on Sunday..—AFP
BHUBANESWAR: Pakistan’s Umar Bhutta (R) fights for the ball with the Netherlands’ Lars Balk during their World Cup Pool ‘D’ match on Sunday..—AFP

BHUBANESWAR: Pakistan suffered a 5-1 defeat against the Netherlands but still sneaked into the knock-out stages of the Hockey World Cup as Germany beat Malaysia 5-3 to maintain their all-win record and seal a direct quarterfinal spot from Pool ‘D’ here on Sunday.

The Malaysians crashed out of the tournament as they finished at the bottom of the group with a mere one point. Pakistan finished ahead of the Malaysians on goal difference and will now face Belgium in the crossover match, while Netherlands will face Canada on Tuesday.

As per the format of the tournament, the top team from each of the four pools directly qualify for the quarter-finals while the second and third placed sides will play cross-over matches against teams of other pools for the remaining four last eight berths.

The Netherlands outplayed Pakistan with Thierry Brinkman, Valentin Verga, Bob de Voogd, Jorrit Croon and Mink Van Der Weeden scoring for them while Umar Bhutta scored for Pakistan.

“We played a very solid game,” Netherlands midfielder Robbert Kemperman said. “In the first two quarters Pakistan defended really well. It was difficult to find the gaps but we kept the pace high. I think we can be happy after this match.”

The Netherlands started on a bright note and Brinkman gave them a seventh-minute lead with a field strike But Pakistan bounced back strongly and earned three back-to-back penalty corners, from the last of which Bhutta scored off a rebound after Ali Mubashar’s flick was saved by Dutch goalie Pirmin Blaak in the ninth.

Three minutes from half-time, the Dutch restored their lead through Verga who scored a fine field goal after a brilliant one-two touch play with Seve van Ass.

The Netherlands started from where they left after the change of ends and extended their lead in the 37th minute with a diving effort at the far post from de Voogd, who tapped in a pass from Jeroen Hertzberger.

The Dutch continued their onslaught and secured a couple of penalty corners in quick time and from one such chance Croon scored to make the scoreline 4-1 in the European side’s favour.

Van der Weerden then converted a penalty corner a minute from the final hooter to round off the scoreline and end Pakistan’s agony.

Earlier, Christopher Ruhr (14th, 18th minutes) and Timm Herzbruch (2nd, 59th) struck twice each for Germany while Marco Miltkau (39th) scored a field goal with an excellent finish off a fast, superbly orchestrated counter-attack.

All the Malaysian goals came from penalty corners. The veteran Razie Rahim (26th, 42nd) bagged a brace while Nabil Noor (28th) scored with a deflection after a clever penalty corner variation.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2018

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