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Pakistan beat Netherlands and advances to the semi-finals of Hero Men’s Champions Trophy

-Netherlands losses 2-4 to Pakistan

NED vs PAK (7)

Bhubaneswar, 11 December 2014: Pakistan stunned Pool B winners the Netherlands 4-2 (2-1) as their perfectly executed counter-punching saw them put memories of a poor group stage firmly in the past with an excellent Hero Hockey Champions Trophy quarter-final win.

It was their first win over the Dutch in the Champions Trophy in 12 attempts, a run dating back to 1998. The Dutch got off to a flying start with Jeroen Hertzberger powering home from mid-circle. His initial run had been half-stopped but squirted back into his path and he did the rest in the fifth minute.

Soon after, Muhammad Imran brilliantly saved a Mink van der Weerden drag-flick off the line as the Dutch dominated possession and territory. But Pakistan was playing a clever counter-attack game which began to yield dividends. Muhammad Waqas created the equaliser with his right wing work unlocking the door for Muhammand Tousiq to scramble home early in the second quarter. Muhammad Rizwan Senior then drew a brilliant save from Jaap Stockman but 2-1 did arrive a minute before the break when Imran fired low past the Dutch goalkeeper.

The Netherlands had more control after the big break and got their reward 38 minutes in when Rogier Hofman’s driven cross from the right flank picked out Constantijn Jonker for a handy finish. But Pakistan still had an ace up their sleeve and, from their most sustained spell of pressure, went ahead for a second time from a clever corner move, laying the ball into the path of Muhammad Irfan to flick high into the net.

Then, when the Dutch fluffed a corner of their own, Pakistan countered to win another set piece which Irfan applied the killer touch.

Speaking on the win over Netherlands, Captain and today’s Man of The Match, Muhammad Imran said, “It was a good as well as a lucky day for us as Holland being the best team till now in the tournament. Post losing to India I think, we caught them low on confidence and which helped us take advantage and advance to the semi-finals. After losing all the pool matches and then striking back in the quarter finals today has given the team a much needed boost and is a good sign for us. We studied Holland’s defence according to their previous matches and worked on the penalty corner conversions, which really helped us in scoring goals. The young players in our team are showing immense potential and the credit for our win today goes to the whole team for displaying a perfect team work today.”

An excited Pakistan Coach, Sehnaz Seikh said, “Today, this was a real Pakistan style of play. Let’s not go by the last 3 matches, we were experimenting many things. Today the tournament started for us and we came back strong on the opponents. The 9/11 style of play proved to benefit us where we attacked with 9 players and defended with 11. We would like to play against India in Semi-final for revival of South Asian classic hockey.

Speaking post the loss, Netherlands Captain Robert Horst said, “I believe we didn’t play our original game. We tried very hard but today they proved to be better than us. They followed a balanced attack & defence throughout the match and kept the tempo on which helped them to score, defend and resulted in their going on to the semi finals. We lost two matches in a row which is not good for Dutch hockey, will take this as a learning experience and will ensure this is not repeated”.

Speaking post the loss, Netherlands Coach Max Caldas said, “We were unlucky today. The team did not play as per plan and did not follow the discipline and which resulted in this loss. The loss against India had nothing to do with today’s performance; it was an entirely new day and a new match. No complains on the format as we were aware of it.”

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