Hockey World Cup 2018: Tactical Aussies outplay stubborn England

Defending champion Australia became the first team to make it to the quarterfinals of the Hockey World Cup 2018 with a 3-0 victory over England at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

England's Ansell Liam (left) fights for the ball against Australia's Trent Mitton during the group stage match at the 2018 Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.   -  AFP

A resolute Australia relied on its tactical innovation to pump in three goals in the final quarter and rein in a stubborn England 3-0 in a crucial Pool B encounter of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Tuesday.

World No. 1 Australia gathered six points from two wins and became the first team to make it to the quarterfinals with one match to go.

In the other Pool B match, China and Ireland played out a 1-1 draw to clear the passage for Australia.

In an absorbing contest, England executed its plans beautifully to contain the Aussie aggression. The Englishmen did tight marking and out-numbered the yellow-and-green brigade inside its penalty area.

The seventh-ranked England impressed by spreading out and compressing as per the need and forcing Australia to cut its flamboyance and focus on possession.

Read: As it happened - Australia 3-0 England

The defending champion put pressure in the opening quarter through a couple of penalty corners but could not beat the alert England defenders.

In the second quarter, Tim Brand missed the target by a whisker despite showing his creativity at goal mouth and Daniel Beale saw his chance being neutralised by England ‘keeper George Pinner’s timely intervention.

Dylan Wotherspoon spoilt a fine opportunity in the third period, but that did not deter Australia from pressing hard.

Australia’s diligence paid off early in the final quarter. Tom Craig’s pass from the back line following an excellent move from the right was slotted in by Jake Whetton.

Within a few minutes, Blake Govers latched on to a chance with a reverse stick on the back of a quick counter-attack. Corey Weyer hit home a loose ball to seal the fate of the match.

Also read: China 1-1 Ireland - As it happened

In the second match of the day, Ireland was held to a 1-1 draw against lowe-ranked China. Jin Guo scored in the 43rd minute from a penalty corner, but Alan Sothern scored in the next minute to restore parity to the scoreline. Ireland tried desperately in the dying minutes of the game, but a courageous China held its nerve to keep the hopes for a place in the cross-overs alive.

The results (Pool B):

Australia 3 (Whetton 47', Govers 50', Weyer 56') bt England 0; China 1 (Jin Guo 43') drew with Ireland 1 (Alan Sothern 44').