Britain ease past Pakistan in Olympic hockey
Round-up: A resurgent Great Britain men’s hockey team put their Olympic campaign back on track in emphatic style with an impressive victory over Pakistan.
Ashley Jackson dominated a game in which Team GB scored two goals either side of the half-time to secure a 4-1 win, which puts them level on points with Australia at the top of Pool A.
And Jackson – who made his Games debut at Beijing 2008 aged 20 – was aware of what was at stake in the match
“We needed to come out all guns blazing after our ‘not there’ performance against South Africa, it was a much improved performance and we had much more fight about us,” said Jackson, who became the first British player to be named World Young Player of the Year in 2009.
“We knew that if we slipped up here then it’d be very difficult from here on in, so we were playing with a bit of fear.”
Great Britain got off to the best possible start with a goal after just three minutes.
In what would become a familiar pattern – Jackson found Matt Daly on the right by-line with a deceptive reverse pass and he fired the ball across the front of goal where James Tindall finished with a fine reverse stick.
The action in the first half was dominated by the award of green cards, with Britain’s Rob Moore and Pakistan’s Akbar Waqas and Sohail Abbas all spending two minutes on the sidelines.
A second goal was added to Great Britain’s tally with a fine team effort on the counter attack. Tindall brought the ball out from defence and found Jackson on the right sideline who expertly controlled and drove in from the right to find Nick Catlin with another reverse pass.
Catlin drew the goalkeeper out before sliding the ball to Jonty Clarke, who couldn’t miss from three yards out.
The final moment of the first half saw Jackson, the standout player so far, receive a yellow card and a five-minute suspension.
Pakistan began the second half well and forced a series of penalty corners but Abbas couldn’t get the better of James Fair and the score remained unchanged.
Great Britain were once again finding plenty of space down the right wing area and Jackson found Daly, who again fed an inviting ball across goal, but Glenn Kirkham was unable to apply the finishing touch.
Jackson eventually scored the goal his performance deserved midway through the second half, despatching a penalty corner low to the goalkeepers left, to make it 3-0.
As time wound down, the Pakistan side grew weary and Team GB took advantage with another Jackson penalty corner.
This one flew high into Imran Shah’s net for Jackson’s fourth goal of the tournament and Britain’s fourth of the game.
Pakistan sneaked a consolation goal in the final minute through Pakistan captain Abbas. The penalty corner specialist did what he does best and fired a drag flick low into the bottom right corner, but it was the most they deserved after a much improved performance from the home side.
Team GB face Australia next, in a game that could decide who tops Group A – and Jackson is eager to surpass the colonials to it.
“It’s definitely going to be a game to watch. Entertaining, with both teams slugging it out toe to toe,” he said. “It will be a physically demanding game as well, so it’s a big rest day now with our feet up.”
In the first match of the day, Australia showed they are not invincible when they failed to hold on to a 2-0 lead over Argentina who had lost both matches in the tournament so far.
Australian striker Jamie Dwyer broke his country's all-time scoring record with his 2-0, a simple tap-in just before the break but his side paid for missing 22 shots on goal.
Argentina scored just two minutes after the interval, with a shot by their skipper Matias Vila deflected off Australian defender Fergus Kavanagh's stick.
Although Australia, who had won both previous matches without conceding a goal and scoring 11 times, were the pressing team throughout, they could not get past impressive Argentine keeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi again in the second half.
Argentina rallied in the last 10 minutes, and with just two minutes to go Gonzalo Peillat's penalty corner drag flick earned Argentina a draw and their first point in the tournament.
"We weren't clinical enough inside the attacking circle and, defensively, one-on-one we were a little bit sloppy," said Australian goal scorer Dwyer. "We are not anywhere near where we want to be after this game. We have taken a step back."
Australia still lead Group A, but after Friday's draw that put them on seven points, they are ahead of Britain only by goal difference.
In Pool B, the two teams expected to make it through to the semi-finals, the Netherlands and Germany, gave their opponents a thrashing on Friday.
The Dutch trailed New Zealand after just five minutes when Nicholas Wilson played the ball across from left wing for Simon Child to put away.
But from then on, the Dutch dazzled with their quick-break hockey, scoring three goals by half time despite having a goal disallowed in a video referral two minutes after the Kiwi goal.
Penalty strokes - taken from seven metres' distance - by Roderick Weusthof and corner specialist Mink van der Weerden put the Dutch ahead, and Billy Bakker finished off a quick counter-attack finished off with six minutes to go before the break.
Another goal by Bakker and Robbert Kemperman slamming the ball into the far-right corner of the goal in the 67th minute put a long distance between New Zealand and any realistic hope to qualify for the final four.
The Netherlands, who came into the tournament ranked second in the world now lead Group B on goal difference ahead of Germany, who blew away record Olympic Champions India.
After two matches characterised mostly by mental strength, Germany stepped up a gear to display some inspiring, fast moves across the pitch.
A hat-trick by Germany's Florian Fuchs and one goal each by Oliver Korn and Christopher Wesley allowed German to cruise to their 5-2 victory, despite a short three minutes in the first half when the score was 1-1 following a penalty corner goal by India's VR Rangunath.
Germany managed to split open India's defence almost at will and will now focus their efforts on countering the Netherlands' quick attacking game when they face each other on Sunday.