Australia rout hosts Malaysia, New Zealand overcome Pakistan
World champions Australia spanked hosts Malaysia 5-1 to surge to the top of the standings in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, here on Saturday.
Two dazzling field goals by Flynn Ogilvie in the space of two minutes stamped the Australian supremacy against Malaysia, whose game was lifted by the vociferous supporters but the world champions turned out to be too good for the hosts.
Posting their second successive victory, Australia moved to the top of the round-robin league standings with maximum six points from two outings.
Defending champions New Zealand are in the second position with five points from three outings after their 5-3 triumph over Pakistan, while Canada defeated Japan 3-1 to take the third spot on four points from three matches.
Malaysia are also on four points, but the big loss to Australia messed up their goal difference. Pakistan and India have three points each from two outings, but Pakistan has a better goal difference.
Skipper Razie Rahim’s 24th-minute penalty corner conversion gave Malaysia the initial lead before the Australians strikers pressed the accelerator.
Australia equalised within a minute through a flash strike by Jacob Wheatton as both the teams went into the breather locked at 1-1.
Two goals in the 40th minute from Ogilvie and Matt Ghodes put Australia in command. Ogilvie again shot on target in the next minute to dash Malaysian hopes of making a contest out of it and Thomas Craig rounded off the scoring in the 55th minute for the Kookaburras.
In the other game, Pakistan opened the account against New Zealand in the eighth minute through Muhammad Arslan Qadir, who flicked in Ajaz Ahmed’s cross just wide of goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex.
The Black Sticks drew parity in the 12th minute when George Muir’s diagonal cross was deflected into the boards by Stephen Jenness.
Captain Simon Child finally put his side ahead in the 19th minute when his reverse shot from top of the circle went through Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt’s pads.
Pakistan then forced seven penalty corners in the space of three minutes, eventually equalising in the 21st minute. Muhammad Irfan Jr found the target in a scrimmage following a penaty corner shot.
New Zealand left Pakistan way behind with three goals in a four minute burst. Two strikes by Woods (39th and 42nd minutes) and one by Kane Russell (43rd) on penalty corners stunned Pakistan.
Pakistan tried to stage a comeback and exerted a lot of pressure on New Zealand, but could only reduce the margin by a goal. Qadir scored his second goal for Pakistan in the 52nd minute before New Zealand closed the gaps in their defence.