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Pakistan stun Holland in rousing encounter
September 15, 2006 22:08 IST
Skipper Muhammad Saqlain came up with a goal-line save seconds before the close to help Pakistan clinch a 3-2 victory over the Netherlands in a 5 to 8 positions classification match at the 11th FIH men's hockey World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, on Friday.
The Dutch, champions in 1973, 1990 and 1998, paid the price for complacency and arrogance against a team that made the best of the offerings.
Four-time champion Pakistan will now take on England, who beat New Zealand 4-3 earlier, in the play-off for 5-6 positions, while the Dutch face the Kiwis to decide the 7th and 8th slots in the tournament.
In a rousing encounter that saw rival players nearly coming to blows in the second session, Pakistan played a disciplined game and did well to safeguard a one-goal lead.
Goals from penalty-corners by Shakeel Abbasi (11th minute) and Sohail Abbas (33rd), followed a 36th minute strike by Zubair Muhammad from a lightning counter-attack, gave Pakistan a 3-0 lead as the Dutch, playing rather tamely, struggled to find their moorings.
However, the third Pakistani goal sparked the Dutch to life and they scored twice in a five-minute spell, with Rob Reckers picking a rebound in the 42nd minute and Taeke Taekema converting a penalty-corner in the 47th.
With the contest growing in intensity, tempers were on a hair-trigger, leading to chaotic scenes in the Dutch circle following a Pakistani penalty-corner attempt. However, the umpires intervened to restore order before the situation got out of hand.
Thereafter, the Dutch applied pressure and had a few chances, but on the day, the luck was with Pakistan, who even survived a penalty-corner in the final seconds, with Saqlain bringing off a goal-line save off Taekema's attempt.
The Netherlands, pre-tournament favourites, will thus end up no higher than seventh, their worst finish since the 1986 World Cup.