Hockey World Cup 2023: Australia toil to reach semifinals, Belgium beat Blacksticks to enter last four

Image Source : TWITTER Australia cruise into final four

Hockey World Cup 2023: Three-time champions Australia and defending champions Belgium on Tuesday cruised past their opponents in the quarterfinals of the Hockey World Cup 2023. The Australian side toiled for a win against Spain as they won 4-3, while the Belgian side won comprehensively by 2-0 against New Zealand.

With the win over Spain, Australia made their 12th straight semifinals in the World Cup. Winners of the 1986, 2010 and 2014 editions, Australia have made it to the semifinals of a World Cup on 11 occasions since the 1978 edition in Buenos Aires. They had lost to the Dutch in the semifinals in a penalty shootout in the last edition here in 2018. Belgium suffered a jolt just before their quarterfinal match, as their star penalty corner expert Alexander Hendrickx was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after he twisted his knee in their final Pool B match against Japan on January 20.

Belgium now wait for the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between England and Germany in the semifinals, while title contenders Australia will face the winner of the other last-eight match between the Netherlands and South Korea. It was a close affair in Australia vs Spain quarterfinal match but Jeremy Hayward’s two penalty corner strikes in the third quarter made the difference. Spain captain Marc Miralles committed a costly mistake as he failed to score from a penalty stroke four minutes from the final hooter when his team was training 3-4. Had he scored, the match would have gone to the shootout.

Hayward struck in the 33rd and 37th minutes while Flynn Ogilvie (30th) and captain Aran Zalewski (32nd) scored field goals for Australia. Xavier Gispert (20th), Marc Recasens (24th) and Miralles (41st) were the goal scorers for Spain who will head home now. Spain denied Australia to play their fast-paced one-touch game in the first quarter. Australia, however, dominated as they got three penalty corners in the first 15 minutes but could not convert even once. Spain scored two fine field goals through Gispert and Recasens to go 2-0 up in the 24th minute.

But just a few seconds from the second quarter, Australia pulled one back with Ogilvie finding himself unchallenged in the Spanish striking circle from a Matt Dawson pass. Ogilvie struck hard and beat the goalkeeper to ease the pressure. If Spain were the better side in the second quarter, Australia were clearly the dominant team in the third as they struck three of the four goals scored in that period

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