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France dash Canada's Olympics men's hockey dream

Source: PTI
February 24, 2012 19:17 IST

Canada's dream of playing in the London Games came to a screeching halt on Friday as France held them to a 1-1 draw in their must-win last round-robin match of the men's Olympics hockey qualifier in Delhi.

Needing an outright win to stay in the hunt for a place in Sunday's final, the 14th ranked Canadians failed to hold on to their 1-0 half-time lead as lower-ranked France equalized.

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Victory could have assured Canada a place in the final, as they have a better goal difference than France and Poland.

Following the draw, France find themselves in a good position to qualify for the final and will be hoping that hosts India beat Poland in the final match of Friday.

Fully aware of the task at hand, Canada started on a bright note when striker Mark Pearson (six goals so far in the competition) had a golden opportunity to put his side ahead but his powerful shot went wide.

Fabien Magner celebrates after earning the equaliser for FranceIt was an intense affair in the first half as both teams pressed hard for goals, neither giving an inch to the other in the defence.

Canada finally broke the deadlock in the final minute of the opening period through a field goal from Iam Smythe.

The French team, whose three players -- Martin, Tom and Hugo Genestet -- played in the match on the back of a personal tragedy after receiving the news of their father Christophe's demise on Thursday, were in no mood to give up without a fight and took some risks to make a comeback into the game.

But the equaliser eluded them till the 56th minute. The 18th-ranked France spoiled Canada's party when Fabien Magner drew parity through a field goal.

Stunned by the goal, Canada went all-out attacking in the final minutes of the game but failed to get the winner.

Meanwhile, in an inconsequential match between minnows of the men's competition, Italy defeated Singapore 4-0.

Agustin Nunez (35th minute, 52nd) scored twice after Ignacio Salas (18th) gave them the lead. Mattia Melato converted a penalty-corner just a minute before the hooter.

Photograph: Reuters

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