Arch-rivals India and Pakistan marched into the semifinals of the Champions Trophy while Australia’s hopes of a fifth straight title remain on target after beating England 2-0 in Melbourne on Thursday.
The Netherlands also progressed to the final four after easily disposing of New Zealand 2-0. India, chasing their first Trophy medal for 30 years, edged out Belgium 1-0, while Pakistan upset Olympic champions Germany 2-1. While making the semi-final is an achievement for India, they now face the much tougher task of playing Australia before a capacity home crowd. Pakistan will also be underdogs again when they take on the Dutch in Saturday's semis.
India, a bronze medallist at the 1982 event at Amstelveen, are bidding to play in their first Trophy final. Unlike their other wins at the tournament, India’s win over Belgium was hard fought, with Indian coach Michael Nobbs praising his team's defence.
“It’s an amazing feeling, they have worked really hard. I didn’t think we played that well today but our defence was amazing,” Nobbs said. “It’s something I haven’t seen from an Indian defence in years, but I thought they played their hearts out.”
The win came despite the Belgians controlling much of the match, however they were unable to convert their many opportunities. The Indians made them pay, scoring a goal against the run of play through Nithin Thimmaiah in the 13th minute. Australia saw off the English threat with a first-half goal to Jamie Dwyer and a final goal to Chris Ciriello sealing the match. “Tonight was probably our best game,” Dwyer said.