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Amsterdam, June 29 The Netherlands men’s team thrashed the already relegated New Zealand as they continued their quest for the FIH Hockey Pro League title on the final day of the mini-tournament here.
The Dutch claimed a comfortable 4-1 victory on Thursday to take a step closer to overtaking Great Britain at the top of the standings, with two matches remaining. Both Spain and Belgium also remain in the running for the men’s title, making for a thrilling final mini-tournament in Antwerp, starting on Friday.
The Dutch maintained their chances on Wednesday with a comfortable win against the Black Sticks.
Some sensationally speedy teamwork saw Teun Beins and Thijs van Dam combining to feed the ball through to Bijen Koen who lifted it into the roof of the net for the Netherlands’s opening goal.
Just three minutes later, an attack down the left-hand side finished with Tjep Hoedemakers passing the ball back from the baseline for Jair van der Horst to tap it in as the home team doubled their lead.
A spectacular save from New Zealand keeper Leon Hayward in the opening seconds of the third quarter prevented his side from dropping further behind. Instead, the Black Sticks pulled one back towards the end of the period with a move down the right. Sam Lane had a swing and a miss after taking it into the circle (which was deemed not to be dangerous on review) and recovered well to cross it in for Dylan Thomas to slot it in.
After a goal from Thierry Brinkman, playing his 150th match for the Netherlands, was disallowed, Jip Janssen fired in the home team’s third off a penalty corner, dragging it through the keeper’s legs, the FIH said in a report on its website.
Moments later, the Netherlands were awarded a penalty stroke after a bad tackle during a goalmouth scramble, and Jasper Brinkman drilled it into the left corner to wrap up a 4-1 victory.
Terrance Pieters was named Player of the Match. “We started pretty well I think. We were 2-0 up at half-time and then we had the feeling that we still needed one more goal to seal the game, which we couldn’t quite get in the third quarter. New Zealand came back to 2-1 so then it was very close again, but I think we managed to play well at the end, stay calm and get the victory,” was quoted as saying by the FIH.
The win took the Netherlands men, who have 29 points from 14 matches, to the third position behind Great Britain (32) and India (30). Belgium are in fourth position with 24 points from 12 matches while Spain are sixth with 21 points from 12 matches.