England, Netherlands top pools in Champions Trophy
BHUBANESWAR, India (AP) — England topped its Champions Trophy pool by drawing 1-1 with second-place Belgium on Tuesday, and the Netherlands finished first in its group despite a 3-2 loss to India.
England continued the form that has seen it emerge as a contender for its first tournament title and dominated the Pool A match against Belgium despite conceding an early goal.
Amaury Keusters put Belgium ahead in the eighth minute before goalkeeper Vincent Vanash fisted out several threats from England.
Iain Lewers then hit the bar from a penalty stroke and later produced the equalizer in the 48th minute with a crisp reverse-flick from the top of the circle.
“I was fortunate to find myself in a position to score and make up for not converting the stroke,” Lewers said. “We’re pleased with our performance today, but what matters is that we win our knockout games.”
In Thursday’s quarterfinals, England will face Germany, Belgium will take on India, the Netherlands will face Pakistan and Argentina will play Australia.
Five-time defending and 13-time overall champion Australia took third place in the pool with a 3-0 win over Pakistan, which finished as the only team from either pool not to earn a point.
Fergus Kavanagh struck twice and Jacob Whetton scored with a minute to go as world champion Australia won its first match after a loss to England and a draw with Belgium.
“We had a few chances, but in the end could not fight it out,” Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh said. “You have to remember that we are only 11th in the rankings and were playing the No. 1 side.”
In Pool B, the Netherlands was expected to finish with a perfect record but ran into an aggressive India side which finished third with its sole win, pushing Germany to the bottom of the standings on goal difference.
S.V. Sunil, Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Singh were the scorers for the Asian Games champions. For eight-time champion Netherlands, penalty-corner specialist Mink van der Weerden scored both goals and also hit the crossbar once.
“We’ve been playing aggressive hockey in this tournament, but luck did not favor us in the previous games,” India high performance director Roelant Oltmans said. “We defended better today and are happy with the win.”
Earlier, Argentina handed Olympic champion Germany a second straight loss with its biggest ever win in the tournament to finish second in the pool.
Captain Matias Paredes connected with a cross from the right to put Argentina ahead early in the second quarter. Joaquin Menini doubled the lead and an unmarked Ignacio Ortiz tapped in a pass from Manuel Brunet to make it 3-0.