It wasn’t the perfect performance, but New Zealand would take the 3-1 win over Chile in the opening match of Pool C in the FIH World Cup here at the Birsa Munda International Stadium on Saturday.
The Blacksticks showed their class in the opening two quarters to race to a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes before Chile grew into the game and put up a fight. While the South American nation didn’t register a point, it will take back a small piece of history with its first-ever World Cup goal in the final quarter.
New Zealand probed Chile’s goal from the start with its slick passing and movement. The goal came through Sam Lane’s strike from an acute angle after the ball was moved smartly from the left to the right with Nick Ross finding Lane in space. Lane’s sweeping hit was on target and flew in between Adrian Henriquez’s legs.
Two minutes later, Blair Tarrant made a brilliant run along the byline and played the pass along the goalmouth where Sam Hiha missed with his first attempt but managed to poke the ball into a near-empty net while sprawled on the floor.
Hiha added a second in the second quarter when Simon Child pounced on a defensive error to play in the Kiwi striker to score the team’s third.
Chile had opportunities through penalty corners but was denied by Dominic Dixon’s saves in goal. Its moment came though in the 50th minute, when it moved the ball quickly in transition into the stick of Ignacio Contardo. The forward raced through before striking with a reverse hit for the first goal.
It was a moment to cherish for the handful of Chile fans – family members of the team – who have made the trip here to take home.
New Zealand, which aims to go further in the tournament, will be pleased with the three points in its bid to make the knockouts.