TOKYO (Reuters) – Australia won their third straight match in the men’s hockey tournament at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday after putting five goals past reigning Olympic champions Argentina, while Germany also scored five to overpower Britain.
Belgium’s Red Lions brushed aside South Africa, winning 9-4, while the Netherlands beat Canada 4-2, hosts Japan earned their first point of the tournament with a 2-2 draw against New Zealand and India defeated Spain 3-0.
Australia’s ‘Kookaburras’ went behind against Argentina in the fourth minute as the match got underway in rainy conditions but had scored four goals by halftime and went on to win 5-2.
“It was a good grind that first five, 10 minutes,” said Andrew Charter, Australia’s goalkeeper.
“We did concede one but at the same time, we had a couple of opportunities. This is international hockey – you’re not going to go through a game without any opportunities against you.”
Australia drew level with less than a minute to go until the end of the opening quarter when forward Blake Govers scored a penalty corner, confirming his reputation as a penalty corner specialist.
That was followed by three more goals in the second quarter and one after the break, giving Australia – who beat Japan 5-3 and India 7-1 in their first two games – the maximum nine points from three matches.
“These first three games are shaping up really well,” said goalie Charter.
“We haven’t had a chance to test ourselves against much competition (in the run-up to the Olympics), except New Zealand.”
Also in the men’s competition, Belgium thrashed South Africa, with seven goals scored by the halftime break, booking their third straight win of the tournament.
The Netherlands stayed on course to book a place in the quarter-finals with their win over Canada, putting them in third position in their group behind Belgium and Germany.
The Germans handed Britain their first defeat of the tournament, winning 5-1, including three goals by attacker Florian Fuchs.
“This is a hiccough,” said British captain Adam Dixon.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up now because we’ve got two big games (ahead of us) against the Dutch and the Belgians.”
Japan, playing in the men’s hockey tournament for the first time since the 1968 Mexico Games, avoided a third straight defeat but coach Siegfried Aikman was disappointed not to have come away with the win over New Zealand.
“I’m a bit emotional at this moment because our team so did very well and we couldn’t bring it home,” Aikman said.
“We did almost everything well and it’s a matter of experience. A few counter-attacks and we are in trouble and that happens through the tournament.”
India secured their second victory at the tournament with a goal from midfielder Simranjeet Singh and a double from defender Rupinder Pal Singh, though the game was closer than the scoreline suggests.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman/Peter Rutherford/Ken Ferris)