Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘Unbelievable’: Great Britain men bag Paris Olympic hockey tickets

Sam Ward scored his fourth brace in four matches as Great Britain men secured tickets to Paris 2024 in thrilling fashion to win their semi-final in Oman. “It’s unbelievable. It’s the first step in this week’s journey,” said captain David Ames.

GB will play Germany in Sunday’s final as they attempt to win their first trophy since 2017’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Their Paris ticket was stamped two hours after the women had secured their passage in Valencia.

Two goals in as many minutes in the first-half paved the way for GB’s route to Paris on Saturday night and a 3-1 win over New Zealand.

Phil Roper opened the scoring with a delicious reverse from the top of the D which winged its way into the backboard from an equally fine aerial from Jacob Draper.

Moments later, Ward notched his first from GB’s castle. Injected wide, the Old Georgian hit man slung his shoulders around and dragged into the net off the keeper’s boot.

But Kane Russell set up an enticing second-half with a rasping corner later in the second quarter.

An expansive match saw GB garner breathing space at the end of the third quarter.

Ward nearly gave GB a two-goal cushion at the end of the third quarter; his powerful flick turned away off the line.

But there was still time. Another pinpoint aerial, from Zach Wallace, found Liam Sanford on the byline. He won the PC and Ward slotted home with Leon Hayward unable to clear.

At the death James Albery picked off the line brilliantly, French cricket style, to stave off a nervy finale.

“We need to come out [against Germany] and it’s an opportunity to win a final, a gold medal at that,” added Ames.

New Zealand will now play Pakistan in the winner takes all match for the final men’s ticket on offer to the Olympics.

Total Hockey

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