[img_assist|nid=4887|title=Hat trick|desc=Florian Fuchs of Germany puts India to the sword on Friday August 3, 2012 – hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=left|width=220|height=146]The third round of men’s hockey pool matches at the London 2012 Olympic Games leaves Netherlands and Germany at the top of pool B just one point away from the semi-finals. The only two sides with a 100 per cent record will clash at 4pm on Sunday.
Over in pool A a draw by Australia against Argentina together with GBs win over Pakistan leaves the Kookaburras top on goal difference ahead of the hosts. Those two side meet at 7pm on Sunday.
Eight-time Olympic champions India, with three consecutive losses, now face playing off for minnor places.
The big shock of the day came in the first match when Argentina held the so-far unstoppable Australia to a 2-2 draw. The Kookaburras marched to a 2-0 lead with a Matthew Butturini finished PC (11 minutes) and Jamie Dwyer’s 180th goal for Australia (35mins) – a finish which made him Australia’s higherst ever international goalscorer.
Argentina were helped by some dreadful Australian finishing and good goalkeeping from Juan Manuel Vivaldi. The forced their way back into contention with a debateable goal credited to Matias Vila in the 37th minute. A decision which left Australia regretting squandering their video referral early in the match. Gonzallo Peillat then finished a corner in the 68th minute to keep Argentina’s slim medal hopes alive.
[img_assist|nid=4863|title=Double trouble|desc=Billy Bakker winds up – hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]Today it was exciting Netherlands that came out to play and the crowd were treated to some fine finishing as they blew away the cobwebs, and New Zealand, 5-1. Running hockey and high presses work against the Dutch if they are executed well, but if a few mistakes start to creep in, the sapce is there for some of the cleverest attckers in world hockey to rack up some goals.
Robert Kempermann’s cracking backhand in the 68th minute was the pick on a day when the Dutch didn’t score a penalty corner. Nick Wilson gave the Blacksticks an early lead (5 mins) but two first half penalty strokes (Robert Weusthof 16 mins, Mink van der Weerden, 27 mins) and a brace from the dangerous Billy Bakker (28 and 56 minutes) left New Zealand always chasing the match.
Germany joined the Netherlands on nine points from three games with a 5-2 demolition of India. The game started with five chances in the first five minutes and the end-game looked inevitable – Germany’s chances kept flowing and India’s dried up.
Florian Fuchs netted a hat-trick with Oliver Korn and Christopher Wesley also joining the party. VR Raghunath scored an early PC and Tushar Khandker was given a charity goal by Max Weinhold in the 62nd minute – but India’s medal hopes are all but dashed.
Spain and South Africa produced a close match with the Spanish, silver medallists in Beijing, winning 3-2. SA goals came from Justin Reid-Ross (PC, 26 mins) and Lloyd Norris-Jones (FG, 63). Spain kept theitr semi final hops alive with strikes from Marc Salles (PC, 30), Pau Quemeda (FG, 42) and Miguel Delas (PC, 55).
In the final game of the day, Belgium defeated Korea 2-1 leaving three teams on three points – Korea, Belgium and New Zealand – who need a major slip up from either Germany or the Netherlands to have anu chance of a semi-final place.