By Daniel Leussink TOKYO (Reuters) -Belgium beat Spain 3-1 on Sunday to qualify for the semi-finals of the men’s hockey tournament at the Tokyo Olympics, joining Australia and Germany who had already advanced to those stages. Spain led 1-0 at halftime, but the Red Lions pulled level in the third quarter when top-scorer Alexander Hendrickx […]
Olympics-Hockey-Belgium sends Spain packing to join Australia, Germany in semis
By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) -Belgium beat Spain 3-1 on Sunday to qualify for the semi-finals of the men’s hockey tournament at the Tokyo Olympics, joining Australia and Germany who had already advanced to those stages.
Spain led 1-0 at halftime, but the Red Lions pulled level in the third quarter when top-scorer Alexander Hendrickx netted off a penalty corner.
The world champions then scored twice more to seal the win. They will take on the winner of the clash between India and Britain on Tuesday.
Earlier on Sunday, Australia reached the semi-finals by beating the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in sizzling Tokyo heat, while Germany overcame Argentina.
A powerful performance by goalkeeper Andrew Charter, who kept a clean sheet in the shootouts – won 3-0 by Australia after the score was 2-2 at the end of regular playing time – helped the Kookaburras win the match.
“It’s bloody amazing,” said Charter. “To come out here and carry the burden for a bit, it’s good for my confidence and it’s good for the team defensively moving forward.”
The Australians had pulled ahead twice in the game, thanks to two goals by Tom Wickham, only to see the hard-fighting Dutch side equalise through goals by Mink van der Weerden and Jeroen Hertzberger.
Dutch goalie Pirmin Blaak recognised Charter’s role in the shootouts.
“Charter saved a few and it was hard to get pressure on the Aussies,” he said.
“I think if you miss three (penalty shots) and they score three, they deserve to win.”
The result meant the Dutch men’s squad won’t play the semi-finals of the Olympic hockey tournament for the first time since 1984.
Australia will face Germany on Tuesday after the Germans secured an easy victory over Olympic champions Argentina.
Germany opened the score in the 19th minute when defender Lukas Windfeder shot a penalty corner low and hard at the left side of the goal, leaving Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi no chance to stop the ball.
Ten minutes into the second half, the German side added to their advantage after scoring through another penalty corner, which gave them little left to fear from the Argentineans.
“It’s hot weather and hot-minded Argentina and we just want to keep it cool and play our German style and I think we did exactly that,” said forward Christopher Ruhr.
The fourth quarter saw one goal from each side, including Windfeder’s second, leaving the final score at 3-1.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Shri Navaratnam, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Hugh Lawson)