Incredible Iran move through to the semi-finals at the Men’s Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018, after a remarkable unbeaten streak in the tournament thus far. The quarter-final against Czech Republic was an action packed, end to end, drama fest, in which both teams played their hearts out.
Iran, Asian Champions and world no. 7, took on Czech Republic (world no. 6) in a memorable clash with nothing to separate them in the 40-minutes standard time. Normal time finished at 2-2, with Czech Republic dominating the final stages of the second half. Czech Republic took a goal lead in the first half; First, Captain Martin Hanus pushed the ball across the goal line after it rebounded from the keeper’s pads from the penalty corner. With in a minute, they doubled the lead when Tomas Jahoda, after a deceptive cross from David Vacek left him in the center of the circle to score into an empty goal.
Iran bounced back right before the half-time buzzer to reduce the deficit from a penalty corner taken by NOROUZZADEH Reza, who has an impressive stats in the tournament – third top-goal scorer with 12 goals (RÜHR Christopher 15 goals leads the stats). Reza equalized from the penalty corner again in the second half after back to back chances that fell into the hands of a fighting Asian side. After the equalizer, the Czech regained partial dominance in the field-of-play, however, could not break the 2-2 deficit owing to the heroics from the Irani goal keeper, HATAMI NEJAD Sasan.
HATAMI NEJAD Sasan showed his experience (back by 136 caps) by saving two shoot-out attempts from the Czech side, as first Lukas Plochy and then Martin Seeman were unable to convert.
Iran will now a strong German side, who have showed pure class throughout this tournament and are considered to be the top-seeded team to win the 5th Edition of Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018. However, Iran have shown fierce competition and determination throughout the event. Will there be an upset. Tune into the links below to follow the action live.
FIH Media Update Rest of the Matches
Austria 2, Poland 1.
Where the opening quarter-final was fast and furious, this encounter between Austria (WR:2) and Poland (WR:5) was a cagey game of cat and mouse. As Austria’s captain and scorer of the winning goal Michael Korper, said: “Defence was the most important part of our game. If we get that right, then we knew we could build from there. “The second half started in much the same style. Both teams worked hard to keep possession but attacking opportunities were few. This changed in the 24th minute when Sebastian Eitenberger pounced on a loose ball and slotted it into the goal to give the higher ranked team the lead. Poland were dragged back into the game through the sheer determination of Krystian Makowski. The burly forward won a penalty corner and then fired home through the legs of Mateus Szmczyk in the Austrian goal. The killing blow came from Korper. Having missed a number of penalty corners, Korper was in the mood to score and after robbing the Polish defence of possession, Korper took the ball wide into the circle and then shot past the ‘keeper with unerring accuracy. “I hadn’t scored today [in the earlier match],” said Korper. “So I desperately wanted to score this time. I had come close in the first half but that one felt good.”
Germany 3, Switzerland 0.
There was a hint of nervous tension among the German (WR:1) team as they took to the field for their quarter-final encounter with Switzerland (WR:8). It might have been the vociferous crowd or the fact that they were missing the services of the excellent Mats Grmabusch, who was reported as suffering an ankle injury, but the first few minutes saw German players making errors and Switzerland very much on the front foot. Switzerland were the first to press the opposition’s ‘keeper but after eight minutes of uncharacteristically harried play, the German goal machine started to roll. Marco Miltkau found the net to put his side ahead after good attacking play by Dan Nguyen created space and wrong footed Lars Kleikemper in the Swiss goal. The second German goal came from the slickest of passing moves. The ball was swept from one end of the pitch to the other and Martin Haner was on hand to deflect it past Kleikemper into the corner of the goal. Switzerland started the stronger in the second half, with Florian Feller coming close to scoring. His shot eluded the outstretched foot of Tobias Walter but scraped past the post to safety. Having negotiated the spell of pressure, Germany began to wear down the Swiss with some probing passes that were eventually rewarded with a penalty corner. Christopher Ruhr needed no second invitation and the ball flew into the roof to give his side a 3-0 cushion. The last action of the game saw Ruhr nearly double his tally as he made a tremendous run the length of the pitch before his vicious shot struck the post and bounced to safety. Speaking after the game Fabian Pehlke praised both his own team and the opposition. “The Swiss made us work very hard and we had to be patient. But it was great to play in front of such a crowd. The enclosed space of an indoor arena such as this makes for a very special atmosphere.”
Australia 4, Belgium 2.
This match, between the two lowest ranked teams among the eight quarter-finalists, was always going to be a cracker. In the early phase however, it looked to be one-way traffic as Australia (WR:14) rushed to a 2-0 lead as, firstly Jack Hayes and then Jake Sherren, found a way past Jeremy Gucassoff in the Belgium goal. Australia have impressed throughout this competition with their route one style of attacking play but an equal willingness to get back and defend with energy. It was a style that Belgium (WR:16) found hard to contend with in the opening minutes of play. When the Red Lions did break into the Australia circle they found Benjamin Rennie alert and agile as he palmed away aerial attempts from Cedric Charlier and Gaetan Dykmans. Belgium knew they would need something special to get back into the game and that came from the stick of Tom De Groote. His penalty corner drag flick rocketed into the top of the Australia goal and a new sense of energy began to take hold of the Belgium team. With 11 minutes left on the clock, this fascinating encounter changed direction again as Jack Hayes scored his second goal and Australia’s third. Hayes found himself with just the keeper to beat, which he duly did. There were more twists in the story yet. With three minutes to play, Belgium came back and made it 3-2 as Tanguy Zimmer added his name to the score-sheet. Throwing everything into the victory, Belgium removed their ‘keeper. Australia got a break and somehow James Knee managed to dive and, with his body fully horizontal, he got a stick on the end of a pass to deflect it into the Belgium empty goal. Game over and Australia through to the semi-finals.
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