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Japan halt Australia's winning run
October 02, 2006 19:44 IST
Australia squandered several chances and were held to a goalless draw by Japan in a Pool 'B' match of women's Hockey World Cup in Madrid on Monday.
With three wins from their three previous matches, a win today would have ensured an early semi-final booking for the Aussies. But they still top the pool with 10 points from four matches and have an overwhelming chance for a last four berth while Argentina are second with seven points from three matches.
Japan, meanwhile, earned their second point from four matches.
Australia began the match with a bang and immediately besieged the Japanese defence with a penalty-corner as early as the third minute but Angie Skirving's shot was deflected by a defender's stick.
A minute later another Skirving reverse flick went wide.
Japan made a quick counter-attack and nearly capitalised in the seventh minute on a poor Australian defensive pass and goalie Rachel Imison had to make an acrobatic save.
Australia again threatened the Japanese goal in the ninth minute but Nikki Hudson's reverse flick was blocked by Japanese goalkeeper on the goalline.
The 16th minute saw Japanese custodian making two more saves.
After a period of open back and forth game, Australia took more control of the game but could not create any clear scoring opportunity.
Japan stayed dangerous with their quick counter-attacks and earned their first penalty corner in the 23rd minute but the shot landed high on the net.
Second half resumed at a high pace, but without no serious opportunity for either side. Most of the play remained in Japanese end with Japan playing defensively and sending only Kaori Chiba upfront to poach for loose ball.
Despite overwhelming Australian domination, it was Japan again that nearly scored on a Tomomi Kamori diving deviation in the 52nd minute but golaie Rachel Imison saved it.
Towards the end, both teams seemed satisfied to settle for a draw, with Australia's Skirving muffing a fine chance in the 66th minute from a penalty corner, their second in the match.
Australia play Argentina in their last pool match on Wednesday against Argentina while Japan take on South Africa on the same day.UNI