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Kiwis keep final hopes alive

October 06, 2005 19:44 IST

New Zealand kept alive their hopes for a berth in the final, displaying sparkling form to come from behind and trounce Malaysia 4-2 in their last league match in the Indira Gandhi Gold Cup hockey tournament in Delhi on Thursday.

Both Australia and New Zealand have seven points each, but the Kiwis have a slender chance of making it to the summit showdown depending on the result of Friday's India-Australia match.

If India win the match, the New Zealanders will be in the final, while defending champions Australia need only a draw to make the grade.

The Kiwis staged a dramatic comeback after trailing 0-2 till the 27th minute and swung the game completely in their favour in the action-packed second session which saw three goals being scored.

For New Zealand, Krystal Forgesson scored a brace in the second half while Honor Dillion and Kayla Sharlan scored a goal each to see that they remain in contention for the trophy.

Malaysia gave the Kiwis a scare in the first half when Siti Noor Ruhani and Kannagi Arumugam put them ahead.

The Kiwis were totally caught off-guard by the ferocity of the Malaysian attacks in the first half. They ran with great speed and the forward line showed excellent coordination.

Seven minutes into the game, Siti Noor Ruhani drew first blood converting a set-piece. In the 27th minute Kannagi Arumagan latched on to a long pass, waited for the goalkeeper to come forward and dribbled past her to push the ball into an empty net.

Realising the urgency, the Kiwis fought their way back with some good moves and Honor Dillon scored a brilliant goal when she dived in front of the goalmouth to deflect a long pass from the right flank. Malaysia went into the breather with the score 2-1.

The break seemed to serve as a tonic for the Kiwis as they came back with renewed vigour and appeared totally transformed with a series of attacking moves.

The action completely shifted to the Malaysian fortress and the defenders had a tough time containing the tall Kiwi forwards.

Kayla Sharlan restored parity with a reverse strike after the ball rebounded off the goalkeeper's pads.

Krystal Forgession gave the Kiwis the much-needed lead five minutes later and scored another in the 58th minute to clinch the issue.

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