Pool A matches:
The Netherlands beat Belgium 3-0 (half-time score 1-0)
Defending champions The Netherlands beat Belgium, who made their debut at the Olympics this time 3-0. The Dutch had a huge support at the Riverbank Arena while the Belgian Panthers looked tense while taking the turf. The Dutch started slowly and gradually built up the attack. Maartje Paumen and Margot van Geffen came close to scoring but a good Belgian defence aborted the efforts. However, the Dutch succeeded at the 33rd minute when Kim Lammers, playing in her 100th match, scored from a long-ball. It was all orange in the second half and Lammer scored her second goal of the match in the 42nd match. Caia van Maasakker made it 3-0 at the 60th minute. The Belgians kept fighting but the champions were a bit better opponent.
China beat Korea 4-0 (half-time score 1-0)
The Beijing games runners-up showed their tough mettle when they drubbed two-times runners Korea 4-0 in a rain-affected match. Korea forced a penalty-corner at the earlier minutes but could not force any result. Both sides continued with a disciplined effort, both in terms of defence and attack. China, too, missed a penalty corner at the 15th minute. But the Same Ma Yibo, who missed the chance, drew first blood in the 25th minute through a high flick. The Koreans were far more aggressive in the second half and were looking to draw level when Zhao Yudiao scored the second Chinese goal in the 51st minute. Three minutes later, Li Hongxia made it 3-0 from a penalty-stroke and it was all over for the Koreans. Ma Yibo put the final nails on the coffin after scoring her second penalty-corner in the 67th minute. It was a perfect start for Yibo who had scored just one goal from 18 penalty-corner attempts in Beijing.
Great Britain beat Japan 4-0 (half-time score 4-0)
The hosts were physically much superior and in no time pumped in four goals. Alex Danson scored at the 7th minute through a little reverse-stick hit. Sarah Thomas utilised a beautiful pass from Hannah McLeod to make it 2-0 at the 23rd minute. Sally Walton scored off a pass from skipper Kate Walsh at the 26th minute while Danson rounded things off at the 28th minute. Though no more goals were scored in the second half, it was Great Britain which kept the pressure on. However, amid the sweet feelings of winning in the opener, the Great Britain women's team suffered a couple of blows when skipper Walsh took a blow to her face and Helen Richardson to her knee.
Pool B matches:
New Zealand beat Australia 1-0 (half-time score 1-0)
The Black Sticks women reversed their poor show against the trans-Tasmanian rivals at the Olympics after registering a 1-0 victory. The Hockeyroos, the most successful side in women's hockey with three Olympic titles, conceded a penalty-corner in the opening minutes and Cathryn Finlayson made no mistake in making the first strike. The Australians came very close to equalise when a powerful shot from Megan Rivers hit the post. Anna Flanagan also came close to score with a superb penalty-corner but the Kiwi goalkeeper saved it. Both teams, separated by just 67 points in their rankings, continued to play absorbing hockey for the rest of the match, even though no more goals were scored. The Australians even replaced their goal-keeper with an extra player but still could not find the nets against the Black Sticks, who were reduced to ten players towards the end of the match when Melody Cooper saw a yellow card.
Argentina beat South Africa 7-1 (half-time score 5-1)
The Las Leonas annihilated the South Africans 7-1 in the most one-sided match of the day. At a rain-soaked Riverbank Arena and in front of over 12,500 people, the Latin American side, ranked two in the world, were 5-1 up during the interval. The terrific Luciana Aymar scored in the 8th and the 29th minutes while Daniela Sruoga (20th minute), Martina Cavallero (25th minute) and Carla Rebecchi (31st minute) made it 5 for the Argentines before the interval. Dirkie Chamberlain scored for the South Africans in the 23rd minute in a magnificent attempt. Noel Barrionuevo's corner-switch widened the gap in the 62nd minute while Silvina D'Elia completed the rout in the 69th minute. Argentina's form will be a cause of worry for other teams.
Germany beat the USA 2-1 (half-time score 2-0)
The third-ranked Germans toiled hard to overcome a spirited USA 2-1 in the third match of Pool B. Fanny Rinne (8th minute) and Lisa Hahn put the Germans 2-0 ahead by the 21st minute of the match but the USA came to them hard in the second half. They got four second-half corners and Lauren Candrall reduced the gap in the 56th minute. Katie O'Donnell came close to draw level but could not finish the job. The seasoned and classy Germans had the final laugh but the American women proved that they would not give up easily in this tournament.
(With FIH inputs)