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Australia down Pakistan in Champions Trophy opener
July 23, 2006 02:41 IST
Australia began their Champions Trophy defence with a 3-2 win over Pakistan in the opening game of the men's field hockey tournament in Terrassa on Saturday.
With the mercury nudging 38 degrees, Pakistan turned the heat on the Kookaburras but were unable to get their noses in front throughout the match.
Australia opened the scoring in the first three minutes, with Michael McCann deflecting a goal off Brent Livermore's free hit outside the circle.
They then controlled the midfield for long periods in the first half, denying Pakistan a shot on goal, until their rivals equalised with a penalty two minutes before the break.
Ahmed Waseem moved the ball quickly around the circle, forcing Australian goalkeeper Stephen Mowlam into a save, then pushed the ball to the feet of Luke Doerner to win the penalty-stroke converted by Sohail Abbas.
The Kookaburras missed a chance in the dying seconds of the half in a move involving Livermore and Jamie Dwyer before Grant Schubert failed to score off the rebound.
In the second half, Troy Elder made the difference for Australia, converting two penalty corners while Sohail Abbas responded with a penalty for Pakistan.
Pakistan coach Asif Bajwa was satisfied with the way his team handled the champions.
"Australia is the number one team in the world and we had a very close match with them and it took a lot of hard work for Australia to beat us," he said.
Australian assistant coach Colin Batch paid tribute to "a quality team" that forced his side onto the back foot in the latter stages of the game.
"It was a very tough match, but every match in this tournament is a tough one," he said.
"They made a lot of good saves from the good chances we created for ourselves and we had to defend at the end to secure the victory."