Title blow for GB men, USA women provide unexpected challenge for the Dutch

The GB men’s hopes of clinching the FIH Hockey Pro League title were dealt a blow when they suffered only their second defeat of the tournament, losing out 2-3 to world champions Germany in London.

As a result, they’ve opened the door for the Netherlands and Belgium to potentially catch them at the top of the table. Over in Antwerp, the Belgians ensured they stayed in the hunt by beating Australia 3-1.

Earlier in the day, the Netherlands women overcame an early scare, clawing their way back from a 0-2 deficit to edge out the unfancied USA 3-2. Argentina’s women then turned the tables on New Zealand in a rain-interrupted match in Antwerp, winning 4-0 to wrap up their Pro League campaign as table-toppers for now.

(Men’s) Great Britain vs Germany 2-3

The first three penalty corners of the match produced three goals – two for Germany and one for GB. The first one went Germany’s way less than two minutes into proceedings, James Albery stopping Gonzalo Peillat’s shot on the line, but Raphael Hartkopf then jumping on the rebound to hand his side an early lead.

It was then the home side’s turn, Sam Ward drilling the ball past the German keeper’s outstretched left leg off the penalty corner. A German penalty corner early in the second quarter once again saw Peillat’s initial shot saved but the ball eventually fell for Elian Mazkour to swat it in for his first international goal.

GB found the equaliser in the third quarter. Nick Bandurak’s initial shot was saved and Rupert Shipperley had a swing and a miss at the rebound. But the ball travelled through to Bandurak who was in the perfect spot to slap it in.

With nine seconds left on the clock, Germany were awarded another penalty corner and this time Peillat’s shot found the back of the net to hand his side the last-gasp 3-2 victory.

Raphael Hartkopf was named Player of the Match and said: “Right now I’m just really happy with the last-minute win. We did a good job today, defended better than two days ago, and I’m just really happy.”

(Men’s) Belgium vs Australia 3-1

Belgium’s first penalty corner of the match saw Loïck Luypaert’s shot coming off the inside of the Aussie keeper’s glove and deflecting into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Sebastien Dockier then had the chance to double the lead in the final seconds of the half, but this time, keeper Ashleigh Thomas did well to keep it out. Luypaert completed his brace in the third quarter by bulleting in a penalty stroke.

Australia scored their first from a penalty corner in the final period when Blake Govers fired it in with a potent drag. But the Belgians came back with another goal of their own. The initial shot from a penalty corner was saved but the ball hit an Aussie defender’s foot which sent it straight to Nicolas de Kerpel to pop it into goal and complete the 3-1 victory.

Nelson Onana was named Player of the Match and said: “It was an amazing game. I really enjoyed it and I think it was a great team performance. I think everybody was really full-in and we gave a lot defensively… so that was amazing.”

(Women’s) USA vs Netherlands 2-3

Having lost by six goals in their previous encounter against the world and Olympic champions on Saturday, the Americans sprung a bit of a surprise when they opened the scoring in the first minute of the match. After Madeleine Zimmer took the ball into the circle, a goalmouth scramble resulted in Abigail Tamer popping it up over the keeper and into goal.

The Netherlands piled on the pressure in the second quarter but couldn’t make it count, heading into the half-time break still trailing. The USA then added to the Netherlands’ woe in the third quarter when a beautiful finish from Megan Rodgers saw her lifting the ball into the back of the net.

The Dutch then pulled one back just a few minutes later – Joosje Burg squeezing the deflection under the USA keeper’s shoulder off their ninth penalty corner of the match. Burg then slotted in a second in open play and Renee van Laarhoven added another off a penalty corner with just five minutes remaining to edge the Dutch in front and secure the 3-2 win.

Joosje Burg was named Player of the Match and said: “It was a really tough game. I think America started quite well, they scored a very nice goal… and I think that was not our best half so I’m happy that we won 3-2.”

(Women’s) New Zealand vs Argentina 0-4

Argentina dominated from the start but it wasn’t until there were just eight seconds left in the first quarter that they scored the opening goal. Agostina Alonso’s powerful reverse stick strike from the top of the D caught a small deflection off a New Zealand defender and went through the Kiwi keeper for the 1-0 lead.

The second quarter ultimately brought no reward for their further dominance but the half-time stats were telling – 25 circle penetrations to one and eight penalty corners to none in favour of the Argentinians.

Midway through the third quarter, torrential rain and lightning brought a halt to the match. Back on the pitch around an hour later, Argentina picked up where they left off. Agustina Albertarrio’s one-handed carry into the circle set her up for an excellent strike to put her side further in front. It was then another impressive shot from the edge of the D that flew into the top left corner to give Argentina their third goal of the night – this time from Sofio Toccalino. And a penalty stroke, taken by Valentina Costa in the final four minutes of the match sealed the 4-0 victory.

Agustina Albertarrio was named Player of the Match and said: “We are really happy because we won but the weather is amazing. I’m really cold, I’m really happy because we are ok and we can go back home and rest.”

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