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Australia edge New Zealand in a meeting of equals

Australia came out tops in a game of two halves as they eked out a 1-0 win over New Zealand to secure their place in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The hot weather clearly affected both teams, who missed a series of chances and also had a goal each disallowed in the first quarter.

Australia got the crucial breakthrough in the 22nd minute when veteran forward Jamie Dwyer, unmarked in the box, thumped home a Chris Ciriellos cross.

New Zealand, the defending champions, did everything they could, including taking out goalkeeper Kype Pontifex and replacing him with an extra outfield player in the last five minutes, but to no avail.

World No. 1 Australia held on for victory to top the seven-team standings with maximum 12 points from four outings.

Dwyer summed the game succinctly: “We were dominant in the first-half, while New Zealand were better in the second-half.

“The conditions did not help both teams at all. We did not hold the ball well enough in the second-half.”

Pontifex, who was named man-of-the-match, said it was “hard playing in such ex­treme hot conditions”.

“I’m sure the conditions will be the same in Rio de Janeiro (for the Olympics in August). We can take a lot from this game and play better against India tomorrow,” he said.

While Australia can take on Japan without any pressure now that they have booked a final berth, New Zealand know they have their work cut out for them as they face India.

India kept themselves in the running for the final with a 5-1 trouncing of bitter rivals Pakistan in the second match of the day.

This is India’s biggest win over Pakistan. India’s biggest win over Pakistan before this was the 7-4 triumph in the 2003 Champions Trophy.

In Tuesday’s match, goals by Manpreet Singh (fourth minute), Sunil Sowmarpet (ninth, 41st), Talwinder Singh (50th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (54th) moved India up to second spot with nine points. New Zealand dropped to third with eight points.

Pakistan’s consolation goal came from a Mohd Irfan penalty corner set piece in the seventh minute.

– Story courtesy of The Star