FIH Pro League 2020: Belgium exacts revenge with a shootout win against Australia

After 1-1 tie,Belgium shoots out Australia 3-1

Emma Puvrez named player of the match

FIH Pro League 2020, Belgium vs Australia Hockey Match: Vagaries of weather not withstanding, the hosts Australia and Belgium produced some excellent hockey at Sydney Olympic Park this weekend. And the two top teams of the world shared honours with Australian women winning the first encounter in a penalty shootout and the visiting Belgium making it 1-1 with a splendid penalty shoot out win in the second.

Only yesterday, the visiting Belgium men’s team wrested back number one slot with a penalty shootout win against the hosts Australia.

In fact, it turned out to be a fantastic weekend for hockey lovers of Sydney and adjoining areas. In women’s section, Australia triumphed on Saturday before Belgium, the Red Panthers exacted revenge on Sunday.

After two fantastic games, Player of the Match on Sunday, Emma Puvrez,  said: “It was a really tough game, with the really big break around half-time. I think we worked really hard and played really well together.”

It was Barbara Nelen, the Red Panthers captain, who drove the last nail into the coffin of Australia, with no mistake with her attempt to ensure Belgium win the shoot-out 3-1 over the Hockeyroos.

As an enthused crowd witnessed the second shootout in two games after Australia almost went all out to win the game in the final seconds with bodies flying everywhere trying to deflect home a loose ball. But it was not to be.

In the 59th minute, it was a brilliant defence from Belgium that helped   Red Panthers to thwart four consecutive penalty corners.

In the 54th minute, The Hockeyroos youngster Lawton almost produces a stunning solo goal. Lawton ran with speed into the circle, by setting for herself a tomahawk that’s on target but drew a good save from Sotgiu in goal.

It was a pivotal moment with just over ten minutes remaining in the match when almost an instantaneous chance was created as Renee Taylor flashes a shot across the face of goal.

With a goal in the 47th minute, The Red Panthers made a perfect start in the last quarter. Tiphaine Duquesne fired home an unstoppable strike from a penalty corner to bring the game level.

Before the end of the third quarter, the goalless  deadlock was broken. Gabi Nance guided the ball home with 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter. There was plenty of late drama in Saturday’s match. The home team pressure finally paid off for the Hockeyroos. Nance deflected home her eighth goal for Australia after sustained spell of dominance from Australia.

In the 43rd minute Kalindi Commerford wove her way past multiple defenders and into the circle, creating space for a shot on the reverse that Sotgiu did well to thwart.

In the 40th minute, Australia earn three consecutive penalty corners, but could not force home the opening goal of the game. The hosts had started the third quarter the stronger of the two teams, dominating territory and possession.

Grace Stewart took a sideline hit quickly in the 39th minute and forced a penalty corner as the defender hadn’t retreated. The Hockeyroos used a variation, pushing the ball to the injector Nobbs, who saw her flick saved.

The Hockeyroos surged down the right side of the pitch and the ball falls kindly to Taylor who loads up and hits a venomous shot, but it hits a Belgian defender before falling to Nance, who couldn’t finish from a tight angle.

After 55 minutes of disruption, the game resumed for final 80 seconds of the first half as the weather had abated. The half-time break was reduced to five minutes.

Was it a turning point in the match in the game when a penalty stroke was saved? Versavel won a penalty stroke when she was illegally impeded as she was preparing to shoot. Rachael Lynch came to the rescue for the Hockeyroos though, diving to her right to save an effort from Duquesne.

In the 17th minute, McMahon was the target again at the top of the battery, but her shot hit Weyns and a second corner was awarded. From the resultant corner, Kenny’s low drag flick was deflected across the face of goal.

Australia looked just a coat of paint away from opening the scoring. In the 16th minute McMahon fired a shot that Stewart gets a deflection too, but it cannons off the post and the danger is cleared.

FIH Pro League 2020: Belgium moves to top slot in men’s hockey after a penalty shootout win over Australia

It was level at the first break. Belgium started the contest the stronger creating multiple turnovers in midfield. It was the Red Panthers with the best chance of the quarter, with a loose ball falling to Versavel, who couldn’t guide her shot on target. Belgium was forcing multiple turnovers in midfield and created chances through Ballenghien and Rasir, but their efforts on goal were saved and cleared.

Australia won its first penalty corner after Bone’s crash ball into the circle hit a foot. Jodie Kenny lined up at the top of the circle, but her low effort was cleared.

The Red Panthers continue their bright start to the contest, earning the first penalty corner of the game. However, a miss-trap at the top of the circle negates the chance and allows Australia to clear. In the 4th minute Belgium was so close to opening the scoring. Louise Versavel played through on goal, but could not guide her effort on target.

-PTC News