Olympic Games: Hockey: Britain made to work for win

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The Independent Online
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Great Britain. .2

Argentina. . . .1

GREAT BRITAIN'S men's hockey team do believe in living dangerously. They did so in Seoul and Los Angeles before winning gold and bronze medals and the same thing is happening here.

On a muggy evening, two more corner goals by Somerset farmer Rob Hill seemed to have set them on their way for a win over Argentina in their fourth match but they won only 2-1 after giving their supporters a terrible scare in the last 10 minutes.

Having lost to Germany earlier in the competition, Britain had to win yesterday to stay in contention. A semi-final place can still be achieved but only if Australia, who beat India 1-0 yesterday, are beaten tomorrow.

Britain rested centre-half Jason Laslett yesterday with the Australian showdown in mind, playing their captain Rob Clift at centre- half on his 30th birthday. Clift, well supported by right-half John Potter, ensured Britain dominated the midfield and Hill came up trumps, once again converting corners, in the 10th and 37th minutes, with penetrating flick shots.

Hill's second goal, his fifth of the tournament, more fairly reflected Britain's superiority but Britain were a trifle casual and Argentina got back into the game in the 60th minute when a clever corner drill allowed Martin Sordelli the chance to flick from close range past Sean Rowlands in the British goal.

Worse was to follow as Hill was harshly sent off for hitting the ball away a fraction after the whistle and Britain had to face the last minutes one short.

The Pan American champions took advantage to create an opening for Carlos Geneyro but Rowlands rescued Britain by spreading his huge frame to block the shot. And it was Rowlands, the Havant goalkeeper, who was forced to stretch again to save Britain when Argentina won a corner two minutes from time.

Britain have now collected six points from the first four of their group matches but still trail Germany and Australia by a point. No country has yet qualified for the semi-finals.

Germany yesterday recorded their biggest win in the Olympics since 1976, defeating Egypt 8-2, and the scoreline could have been larger but for the squandering of many other German chances. It was Egypt's heaviest defeat in international hockey for 16 years, their nine-man defence unable to cope with the skilful guile of the German attack.

In Group B, Pakistan lead with maximum points, two ahead of Netherlands and Spain, but Pakistan have yet to play the hosts, who they meet tomorrow.

Pakistan yesterday defeated the World Cup holders, the Netherlands, 3-2, when for once, the Dutch corner drills were inferior to their opponents'. Although their top scorer, Floris-Jan Bovelander, gave the Dutch the lead from their first corner for his ninth goal of the tournament, it was the corner-striking of Pakistan's full-back, Khalid Bashir, that brought Pakistan victory. Bashir scored twice, Pakistan's other goal was brilliantly taken by the inside-right, Tahir Zaman.

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