Pakistan’s improved run at the FIH Champions Trophy 2012 came to an embarrassing end on Saturday, when they were thrashed 5-2 by the Netherlands in the first semi-final in Melbourne.
Pakistan went behind in the second minute when Billy Bakker scored from open play and the Dutch maintained the pressure for the rest of the match to book a spot in tomorrow’s final.
The Greenshirts earned a penalty corner in the 10th minute but failed to convert after choosing for an indirect attack. The persistent Dutch attack paid off in the 20th minute, when Seve Van Ass doubled the lead soon after his team forced an impressive save from Pakistan’s goalkeeper Imran Butt.
Pakistan’s first goal came in the 23rd minute when a scintillating pass into the circle towards Shakeel Abbasi was put in by a Dutch defender. However, Bakker scored a brilliant goal in the 33rd minute to help his side maintain the two-goal cushion at half-time.
When play resumed, Pakistan made several moves into the Dutch half but failed to convert from a number of good chances while the Dutch applied pressure of their own by testing the Pakistan defence at the other end.
The Greenshirts were left to rue their missed chances when Valetnin Verga’s powerful shot from just inside the circle consolidated the lead for Netherlands and put them within touching distance of their third consecutive final at the Champions Trophy.
With eight minutes left, the Netherlands scooped in their fifth and final goal of the match, with Pakistan’s defence lacking any strength to plug the gaps.
Pakistan’s leading goal-scorer of the tournament, Shakeel Abbasi, scored his first direct goal of the match in the dying seconds to give some consolation to the small but vociferous Pakistani contingent in the stands.
While they lost a chance to go for gold, Pakistan can still end up on the medals table should they win their third position match against subcontinent rivals India who were beaten 3-0 by Australia in the second semi-final.