World champions Australia and Great Britain posted contrasting victories in the 26th Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament. Australia, the defending champions, coasted to a 6-1 victory over hosts Malaysia, who were denied a goal on video review, while the Britons had to defend stoutly to prevail 5-3 over a resurgent Japan, whose young team is being prepared for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Japan, the hosts, will get to play in the Olympics in 2020 after a long gap.
Both Australia and Great Britain now have four points from two outings each, just like India, who earlier in the day blanked New Zealand 3-0 in their second outing of the tournament.
Australia are on top of the standings on basis of their superior goal difference, followed by India and Great Britain.
Like New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan are on one point each from two round-robin league matches.
Australia rode on goals from Tom Craig (11th, 38th and 44th minutes) and Trent Mitton (23rd, 27th and 58th), while Malaysia’s lone strike came through a penalty stroke conversion by Faizal Saari (42nd).
The Malaysian goal that was cancelled on video referral would have brought them 1-1 parity in the second quarter.
Field goals from Barry Middleton (third minute), David Goodfield (12th) and Sam Ward (15th) gave Great Britain a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, while Japan’s lone goal came through Kenta Tanaka in 14th minute against the run of play.
The Britons increased the lead to 4-1 in the 32nd minute when Tom Carson capitalised on a penalty corner, but their own defence was stunned through two goals from the speedy Japanese outfit.
Tanaka fired his second goal in the 38th minute and Kota Watanabe shot home in the 49th to bring Japan within one goal of the fancied rivals.
Alan Forsyth’s open play strike in the 52nd minute ensured that Great Briton could breathe easy toward the end.
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