HWL Finals: Belgium, Spain register upset wins in Pool A

While Belgium shocked world number one Argentina 2-3, the lowest-ranked team of the tournament, Spain trumped World Cup silver medallist Netherlands by an identical margin.

The win enabled world number three Belgium to avenge its loss to Argentina in the title clash of the 2016 Rio Olympics.   -  PTI

The unpredictable nature of the game came to the fore on Day Two of the Hockey World League Finals here on Saturday with Spain, the lowest ranked side in the competition, upsetting European champion Netherlands 3-2 and Belgium defeating Olympic champion and the world's top-ranked side Argentina by an identical margin in Pool A encounters.
 

In Pool B, Australia improved on its shoddy play from Friday to hold Germany 2-2 for its second successive draw.

Spain, ninth in the world, outclassed former tournament champion Netherlands in a racy game that saw it score at regular intervals even as the opposition tried to fight back. However, it couldn't find a way to break past the Spanish defence. Pau Quemada stuck on the stroke of first quarter while Enrique Gonzalez got his first goal here and Diego Arana completed the tally. Lars Balk and Mirco Pruijser scored for the Dutch.

Gonzalez, who was named the best Young Player of the match, showed why he is rated so highly on the international circuit. The former junior national captain, who enthralled the crowds at the Junior World Cup in Lucknow last year, managed to find gaps and dribble past the opposition with ease, setting up his senior teammates.

Netherlands skipper Billy Bakker voiced what every team has accepted here, that the league matches are an opportunity to work out chinks in its structure, but it still would rankle the team, especially given the fact that it had thrashed Spain 7-1 in the Euros recently.

In the other match, Belgium avenged its Olympics final defeat to Argentina, dominating the game throughout with some impressive passing game. Former captain John-John Dohmen admitted it felt good to win against Argentina - a team it has had the upper hand against in recent years - saying he believed Belgium was the better team overall regardless of the Rio result.

It was an exciting, end-to-end affair with Loick Luypaert putting the Red Lions ahead. A barren second and third quarters was replaced by an engaging final 10 minutes that saw four goals being scored. But despite going all out in the last three minutes and crowding into the Belgian circle, Argentina was unable to find the equaliser.

Later, defending champion Australia continued to struggle for form and finish and remained erratic in defence as well as Germany controlled the midfield and set up chances. But a brief period of letting down its guard saw Germany concede two goals in the middle two quarters before pulling back two minutes from time.

 

The results:

Pool A: Belgium 3 (Loick Luypaert, Amaury Keusters, Tom Boon) bt Argentina 2 (Maico Casella, Gonzalo Peillat); Spain 3 (Pau Quemada, Enrique Gonzalez, Diego Arana) bt Netherlands 2 (Lars Balk, Mirco Pruijser).

Pool B: Germany 2 (Martin Haner, Marco Miltkau) drew with Australia 2 (Blake Govers, Aaron Kleinschmidt).

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :