Australia win fourth straight Champions Trophy
Australia maintained its stranglehold on hockey's Champions Trophy with a 1-0 win over Spain on Sunday, claiming a record fourth straight title through a disputed goal to Eddie Ockenden.sports Updated: Dec 11, 2011 13:44 IST
Australia maintained its stranglehold on hockey's Champions Trophy with a 1-0 win over Spain on Sunday, claiming a record fourth straight title through a disputed goal to Eddie Ockenden.
The reigning world champions went into the decider overwhelming favourites but were forced to work hard for their victory by a Spanish side determined to make amends for a disappointing sixth place at the European Championships.
The win at the last major tournament for men's hockey before the London Olympics gave the Kookaburras their 12th Champions Trophy title overall and confirmed their status as the sport's top-ranked team.
"I'm very proud to win again and create history with four times in a row," said Australia captain Jamie Dwyer, who finished the tournament as top scorer with seven goals and was named world player of the year for the fifth time.
The final, played in blustery conditions in Auckland, was a defensive affair that only sparked to life when Ockeden netted his winner in the 59th minute.
The Spanish argued the goal came from a dangerous Liam De Young high pass and should have been disallowed, but Korean umpire Kim Hong-Lae waved aside the protest to give Australia the decisive lead.
Spain surged forward looking for an equaliser but the Australian defence was up to the challenge and the Kookaburras held on for the win.
Spain coach Daniel Martin said through an interpreter that he did not understand the umpire's ruling and felt the ball could have hit a Spanish player.
But Spanish skipper Santi Freixa brushed aside the controversy, saying he was pleased his side had re-established its international credentials after their Euro flop.
"We don't have any excuse, we feel proud of ourselves," he said. "It's not important what happened during the match."
In the third-place playoff at the eight-nation tournament, the Netherlands held off a dogged challenge from hosts New Zealand to win 5-3.
While the Dutch held the lead throughout the match after Jeroen Hertzberger's opener in the fifth minute, the New Zealanders, spurred on by a vocal hometown crowd, matched them goal for goal until late in the second half.
With the scores locked at 3-3 with three minutes to go, extra time was looming before Bob de Voogd directed in Sander de Wijn's long-range shot.
As the Black Sticks poured forward frantically chasing an equaliser, hauling off keeper Kyle Pontifax to gain another outfield player, Billy Bakker capitalised for the Netherlands and sent the ball into the open goal.
In the bottom half of the tournament, Pakistan narrowly avoided the wooden spoon, needing an extra-time golden goal from Muhammad Rizwan senior to snatch a 5-4 win over South Korea, while Germany defeated Great Britain 1-0.
The win put Germany in fifth place, guaranteeing a spot at next year's Champions Trophy in Argentina, while Pakistan manager Khawaja Junaid said the Green Shirts had benefited from exposure to top teams at the tournament.
He said Pakistan, making their first Champions Trophy appearance since 2007, had performed well but needed to improve their consistency.
"That's our major problem and we'll be working very hard on that before the Olympics," he said.