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Oz in cruise mode, move closer to semis

india Updated: Mar 07, 2010 00:08 IST

Somehow it did not look like a clash between the two top teams in the World. The match between Champions Trophy winners Australia, ranked second, and Olympic silver medallist Spain, ranked No. 3, lacked pace. There were some good moves and chances but the teams failed to rise to the occasion. Both Australia and Spain had set a good pace against India earlier.

Australia capitalised on some uncharacteristic errors by the Spanish defence to emerge 2-0 winners in their crucial Pool B encounter in the Hero Honda FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup here on Saturday. Luke Doerner and Glenn Turner scored for the Kookaburras, who now have nine points from five matches and need only a draw from their last match against Pakistan on Monday to seal their place in the semifinals. Spain remained on six points and are in a tough spot as far as semifinal place is concerned. There was some good action in the first half, after a tentative start, as Australia established midfield superiority. Grant Schubert got two early chances for the Kookaburras but could not find the target. In the 6th minute, Matthew Butturini made a superb run at the Spain goal and set up Schubert, who was thwarted by Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes. Spain got their first penalty corner two minutes later but Pau Quemada’s drag flick was palmed away by goalkeeper Nathan Burgers.

However, Australia could not be denied for long and took the lead in the 20th minute when Doerner converted their first penalty corner. Spain tightened their game to put the Kookaburras under pressure.

Pol Amat made a good run at the goal but it was veteran Eduard Tubau who came closest to levelling score for Spain. He beat a defender off a quick counterattack, sped past Australian goalkeeper Nathan Burgers but shot inches wide of the goal. Spain came out attacking in the second half and got two chances but the Australians defended well.

The Spanish defenders made some mistakes and allowed the Australians to launch attacks. The pace slackened further and in the last quarter of the game, the players were virtually ambling along.

Glenn Turner made it 2-0 for Australia when he gave the perfect finishing touch to a superb run by Robert Hammond. Spain messed up eight penalty corners while Australia converted one of three.