New Zealand beat Australia 3-1 to win 2nd Azlan Shah title

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Ipoh (Malaysia), April 12: A gritty New Zealand surprised world champions Australia 3-1 in the penalty shoot-out in a keenly-contested summit clash to claim their second Azlan Shah Cup hockey title here today. (India win bronze in Azlan Shah)

Goalkeeper Devon Manchester starred for the Black Sticks under the woodwork to secure the hard-earned win in the shoot-out against defending champions Australia after both the teams were tied 2-2 in regulation 60 minutes.

File Photo - New Zealand win Azlan Shah title against Australia

Drag-flicker Andy Hayward (5th minute, 58th) scored New Zealand's both goals while Australia struck late through Jacob Whetton (50th) and Nicholas Budgeon (60th) to take the match into the shoot-out.

It was a high intensity affair between the Trans-Tasman rivals and at one time New Zealand nearly sealed the match when Hayward converted a penalty corner just two minutes from the hooter.

But the Kookaburras did not give up without a fight and mounted continuous attacks on the New Zealand goal and in the process secured a penalty stroke just a few seconds from the final hooter.

Budgeon stepped up and made no mistake to prolong the game further. In the shoot-out, only Whetton scored for Australia as Daniel Beale, Eddie Ocekden and Aran Zalewski faltered to hand New Zealand their second Azlan Shah title after 2012.

New Zealand's victory also snapped Australia's winning streak here as they stopped the Kookaburras winning their third consecutive triumph at the Azlan Shah Cup.

For the records, Australia have won the Azlan Shah Cup for a record eight times since the tournament's inception in 1983.

India finished third by overcoming Korea 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out after both the teams were locked at 2-2 at regulation time. Surprisingly, all the three classification matches in this edition of the tournament were decided by shoot-out. 

It was high-scoring fifth-sixth place qualification match

Meanwhile in the first match of the day, lower-ranked Canada sprang a surprise and defeated hosts Malaysia 3-1 in the penalty shoot-out to secure the fifth spot and avoid the wooden spoon.

It was a high-scoring fifth-sixth place classification match as both Canada and Malaysia scored four goals apiece in the regulation time to take the match into shoot-out.

Malaysia scored their goals through skipper Razie Rahim (2nd minute), Faizal Saari (19th, 37th) and Firhan Ashari (23rd). For Canada, Gabriel Ho-Garcia (16th, 26th, 33rd) scored a hat-trick while Matthew Sarmento (49th) was the other goal-getter.

In the shoot-out, only Saari scored for Malaysia whereas Sukhi Panesar, Jagdish Gill and Devohn Noronha Teixeira converted their attempts to hand Canada a memorable victory, their first in the tournament.

By virtue of this win, Canada have managed to avenge their 1-4 defeat against the host nation in their last league match yesterday.

PTI

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