Azlan Shah Cup: India beats NZ 4-0 to win bronze

Rupinder Pal Singh’s two penalty corner goals and field goals by S. V. Sunil and Talwinder Singh gave India an authoritative victory. Great Britain defeated Australia to win gold.

India's Talwinder Singh (second from left) celebrates after scoring India's fourth goal on Saturday.   -  AP

India defeated New Zealand 4-0 in the 3rd-4th place playoff tie to win the bronze medal at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Saturday. It was India's third win in the tournament, and second against New Zealand, which had earlier been beaten 3-0. This time, Rupinder Pal Singh converted two penalty corners to give India a 2-0 lead by the 27th minute, before field goals by S. V. Sunil and Talwinder Singh.

Last year, India had finished second in the tournament, losing to Australia in the final.

Great Britain won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title after a gap of 23 years with a rousing 4-3 victory in the final against defending champion Australia. Entering the final for the first time since its lone title win in 1994, Great Britain led all the way after securing an early lead in the eighth minute.

Nine-time champion Australia fought back to take the encounter to the wire, but the British team defended its citadel well and banked on brisk counters to assert pressure on the rival. Leading the British challenge was David Goodfield, who scored two goals in the title encounter.

Great Britain’s way into the final was paved by India’s lackluster show in its last league outing against Malaysia on Friday. Needing a two-goal win to overtake Great Britain on the league table, India crashed to a one-goal defeat against host Malaysia.

In the playoff for the fifth spot, Malaysia beat Japan 3-1.

Quick goals

Great Britain scored two goals in the space of four minutes to surge into the 2-0 lead with unmarked Alan Forsyth sending a rasping reverse shot into the net in the eighth minute and Goodfield capitalising on a rebound from the custodian in a set piece penalty corner attempt in the 11th minute.

Stung by the reverse, Australia forced three successive penalty corners in the 15th minute before the ball was successfully deflected out by the goalkeeper.

Australia wasted two more penalty corners in the second quarter before Eddie Okkenden scored his team's first goal in the 28th minute with his second shot. After picking a pass inside the circle, Okkenden’s first shy was palmed by the British goalkeeper Harry Gibson, but he picked the rebound on the move and made no mistake this time.

Great Britain again stretched its lead in the 33rd minute as Ollie Willars picked a pass from Phil Roper on the right flank and sounded the boards with a measured shot from just inside the circle for its third goal.

At the other end, Australian striker Joshua Pollard managed to place a shot past a crowd of defenders in the 34th minute to narrow the lead to 2-3.

Great Britain went 4-2 ahead in the 43rd minute through Goodfield’s second goal of the final. Goodfield collected a pass from Forsyth on the right, turned around and sent a rising flick into the net.

Great Britain were down to 10 players in the very next minute as Mark Gleghorne had the green card flashed at him for tripping an Australian player in the midfield when an attack was building up.

Trying to capitalise on the advantage in number, Australia took off its goalkeeper to bring in a kicker-back in the last minute of the third quarter, but the strikers could not get a touch on the long shots into the circle that rolled over the goal-line.

Dylan Wotherspoon scored the third goal for Australia in the 48th minute, bringing it back into the game as he flicked home in goalmouth scrimmage.

However, Australia’s efforts to find the equaliser were thwarted by a resolute British defence. The last Australian effort came with barely 30 seconds remaining when a long diagonal ball was sent into the goalmouth, but British goalkeeper Gibson took a step forward to pad it away before any striker could reach it.

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