Picture:The press scrum around Luciana Aymar
China 4 South Africa 1
England 1 Korea 1
Argentina 4 Spain 0
India 1 Germany 4
N’lands 4 Australia 1
New Zealand 2 Japan 2
Six match super-Friday’s saved the best for last with an exciting draw between New Zealand and Japan. Earlier in the day, England dropped two points against Korea, the Netherlands and Germany continued to impress, las Leona marched onwards and China finally started to find some form.
England edged their way to a draw with the dangerous Koreans, after conceding a goal in the first minute. Helen Richardson was England’s saviour producing a goal early in the second half with a forceful dribble into the circle. Beth Storry had another excellent game between the sticks, saving well towards the end of the second half. Korea also had a penalty corner strike disallowed – after a deflection high into the net was ruled a hit. At least this rule is being interpreted consistently here.
China recorded their first win of the tournament but not before South Africa caused a few problems. The African champs took the lead in the fourth minute as Jennifer Wilson deflected home a neat penalty corner move. It took most of the half for China to get back on level terms and then it was through a bad-corner-turns-out-good goal from Gao Lihau.
In the second half the icy winds from the Pampas finally blew away the cobwebs that have bedevilled the Chinese all tournament. Upfront Fu Barong began to look her old self and Li Hongxia showed some silky ball skills. Barong showed one of her trademark quick turns to put China in front, then Gao Lihau netted twice more to complete her hat-trick.
In the final group B, of the day Argentina demolished Spain 4-0. Luciana Aymar was rested for periods of the match with all pool B games wary of fatigue as Thursday’s washout means games on consecutive days.
Group A games started with Germany kicking on to a comfortable 4-1 win over India scheduled on consecutive days after Thursday’s washout. Teenage sensation Rani Rampal scored her third goal of the tournament for India.
A much improved Hockeyroos were undone by three stunning penalty corners from Dutch defender Maartje Paumen. The corners were the difference in an even game. The Aussie goal came from Nicole Arrold, the Dutch field goal from Minke Smeets.
For the true hard-core fans who braved the plumetting night temperatures, the Kiwi Japan clash was by far the best game of the day. Both sides had hances in the first half, before Japan raced to a 2-0 lead early in the second. The Kiwis hit right back with two in a minute. Krystal Forgesson and Kayla Sharland were the New Zealand goalscorers while Kaori Chiba and Mie Nakashema scored for Japan (all field goals).