Hockey: Britain dethrone Australia to reclaim Azlan Shah Cup after 23 years
May 6, 2017 | 9:00 PM
by PTI
Great Britain players celebrate with the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Saturday. Photo - AP/PTI
 
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Ipoh: Great Britain won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title after a gap of 23 years with a rousing 4-3 victory in the final against defending champions Australia here on Saturday. Entering the final for the first time since their lone title win in 1994, Great Britain led all the way after securing an early lead in the eighth minute. Nine-time champions Australia fought back to take the encounter to the wire, but the British team defended their citadel well and banked on brisk counters to assert pressure on the rivals. Leading the British challenge was David Goodfield, who scored two goals in the title encounter. Great Britain’s way into the final was paved by India’s lackluster show in their last league outing against Malaysian on Friday. Needing a two-goal win to overtake Great Britain on the league table, India crashed to a one-goal defeat against hosts Malaysia. India earlier in the day outplayed New Zealand 4-0 to claim the bronze medal, while Malaysia beat Japan 3-1 in the playoff for the fifth spot. Great Britain scored two goals in the space of four minutes to surge into the 2-0 lead with unmarked Alan Forsyth sending a rasping reverse shot into the net in the eighth minute and Goodfield capitalising on a rebound from the custodian in a set piece penalty corner attempt in the 11th minute. Stung by the reverse, Australia forced three successive penalty corners in the 15th minute before the ball was successfully deflected out by the goalkeeper. Australia wasted two more penalty corners in the second quarter before Eddie Okkenden scored their first goal in the 28th minute with his second shot. After picking a pass inside the circle, Okkenden’s first shy was palmed by the British goalkeeper Harry Gibson, but he picked the rebound on the move and made no mistake this time. Great Britain again stretched their lead in the 33rd minute as Ollie Willars picked a pass from Phil Roper on the right flank and sounded the boards with a measured shot from just inside the circle for their third goal. At the other end, Australian striker Joshua Pollard managed to place a shot past a crowd of defenders in the 34th minute to narrow the lead to 2-3. Great Britain went 4-2 ahead in the 43rd minute through Goodfield’s second goal of the final. Goodfield collected a pass from Forsyth on the right, turned around and sent a rising flick into the net. Great Britain were down to 10 players in the very next minute as Mark Gleghorne had the green card flashed at him for tripping an Australian player in the midfield when an attack was building up. Trying to capitalise on the advantage in number, Australia took off their goalkeeper to bring in a kicker-back in the last minute of the third quarter, but the strikers could not get a touch on the long shots into the circle that rolled over the goal-line. Dylan Wotherspoon scored the third goal for Australia in the 48th minute, bringing them back into the game as he flicked home in goalmouth scrimmage. However, Australia’s efforts to find the equaliser were thwarted by a resolute British defence. The last Australian effort came with barely 30 seconds remaining when a long diagonal ball was sent into the goalmouth, but British goalkeeper Gibson took a step forward to pad it away before any striker could reach it.


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