01 December 2009

2009 ABN-AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men - Melbourne Match 3 - Netherland v Spain

This is world ranked teams 3 (The Netherlands) versus 4 (Spain). In this match Dutch legend Taeke Taekema  has the opportunity to become the Champions Trophy highest ever goal scorer. He currently shares this with Sohail Abbas from Pakistan on 40. It is important to note that all of these goals for both players come from penalty corners or penalty strokes.

It only 13 minutes before Taeke claimed the record. Weusthof fed  the ball in the circle amongst 3 Spanish defenders. He successfully played the ball into the feet of a defender and was awarded the penalty corner. Taeke slings the ball low and to the left of the keeper and despite getting a touch on it the ball cracks into the backboard. 1 - Nil The Netherlands.
Then came the most surprising thing I have ever seen from all the times I have watched the Dutch play. They scored a field goal. Taeke from his own 25 runs the ball forward and then slams to his far left to the circle where he finds Hofman waiting. Hofman runs the ball straight, crosses the ball with the reverse of his stick across the face of the goal to his captain de Nooijer who is waiting completely unmarked and the ball is deflected into the goal. 2 - Nil The Netherlands
The game reverts to the back and forth that marked the first part of the game and it takes Spain until the last five minutes of the half to really look dangerous with captain Pol Amat and striker Ramon Alegre unlucky to score.
Over the first twenty five minutes of the next half Spain and The Netherlands trade penalty corners. On the fourth (Netherland's second), awarded from a Spanish raised ball, Taeke flicks the ball past the left glove of the keeper into the back of the net. 3 - Nil The Netherlands.
With eleven minutes to go Pol Amat scores what could possibly be goal of the tournament. Tabau restarts from a penalty at halfway. After a short run he passes it through to Fabregas on the left hand side of the circle and he heads toward the baseline. A quick flick of the ball back to the top of the circle where Amat is waiting, he charges straight still on the left hand side of the goal. As he running out of room he reverse sticks the ball over the head of the keeper and under cross bar. It was quite stunning to watch. 3 - 1 The Netherlands.
One minute later Spain have worked the ball up the right of the field where they earn a free hit outside the circle. David Alegre quickly plays the ball and forces Dutch defender Jolie to play ball without having withdrawn 5 yards and a penalty corner is awarded. For the goal the Spaniards use their second battery option and Xavier Ribas drag flicks the ball just inside the right post. 3 - 1 The Netherlands.
Sadly that was all she wrote for Spain. Netherlands stepped up their defense and almost scored again through de Nooijer.

In terms of games so far this was the least exciting to watch. Both teams played the usual European style with long passes and a lot of passing around the back (which isn't a bad thing really). There were moments of brilliance but not enough to really make it an exciting match.
I'm making an early call of Australia and England or Germany in the final with the Kookaburras to take the title.

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