MELBOURNE: Pakistan are one win away from their first Champions Trophy final since 1998 after upsetting Olympic champions Germany 2-1 in Melbourne on Thursday.
To reach the tournament decider they will have to beat the Netherlands in Saturday’s semi-final after the Dutch accounted for New Zealand 2-0.
Pakistan’s win was due largely to Shakeel Abbasi, who dominated and scored both of his team’s goals.
Abbasi said he believed his team could continue to do well in the tournament.
“In the last three matches I didn’t score and I am a mentor for my side so I realised I had to score,” he said.
“If we have confidence and play hard and have dedication, we have the potential to win against every team.”
Pakistan’s victory was made even sweeter given they were forced to come back after Germany opened the scoring through skipper Moritz Fuerste.
But Pakistan played well throughout the first half and were unlucky not to draw level after many scoring chances.
The trend continued after half-time with Pakistan generating penalty corner attempts and generally dominating.
Pakistan’s second and decisive goal was full of controversy.
The goal was scored by Abbasi, however Germany referred the decision claiming it should not have been awarded as the ball initially came off the back of the stick of a Pakistani player before making its way to Abbasi.
The video proved inconclusive with the goal standing despite the German protests.
The Germans, sensing the danger of missing the semi-finals, went for all-out attack, however Pakistan held on for a memorable win.
The Netherlands were pleased to progress to the last four, yet coach Paul van Ass said he didn’t feel his team played their best.
“It wasn’t the best game from us here. It wasn’t a fun game to watch, but maybe this weekend we will see a lot of nice matches,” he said.
“The test will come this weekend when we play against high pressure. That is what we are here for so I’m looking forward to that.”
Early on it looked as though it would be an easy win with the Dutch on top.
After scoring first through Jeroen Hertzberger, Netherlands struggled to find a way to extend their lead.
A second breakthrough came following a brilliant run into the circle by Sander de Wijn, with Billy Bakker converting for a two-goal cushion and passage into the semi-finals.
India take on Belgium and hosts Australia have an evening quarter-final against England later Thursday.
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