Australia, Pakistan record contrasting wins on way to final

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Melbourne, Mar 24 (UNI) Defending champions Australia and strong contenders Pakistan chalked out contrasting victories over their rivals to set up a title clash in the men's hockey competition in the Commonwealth Games here today.

Olympic champions Australia thrashed Malaysia 6-0 while former world champions Pakistan had to wait for the golden goal to edge out England 2-1 in their respective semi finals.

In hot conditions, Australia led 1-0 at half time, but blew their opponents away in the second half to set up a chance for three straight Commonwealth Games gold.

Two of Australia's goals came from the penalty stroke -- skipper Brent Livermore converting in the 31st minute and doubling his team's advantage seven minutes into the second half.

Ahead by 2-0, the host nation piled on the pressure, going three ahead when Jamie Dwyer powered past under siege Malaysian goalkeeper Ibrahim Nasihin.

But, the carnage for Malaysia didn't stop there, with Luke Doerner converting from a penalty corner and Luke De Young making it 5-0 three minutes from time. Doerner then converted from the penalty stroke to complete the tally.

In the second semifinals, striker Shakeel Abbasi scored the golden goal in extra time to steer Pakistan to a narrow 2-1 win over England.

Both the sides were locked 1-1 at the end of the regulation period and to break the deadlock, extra time was given and after a goalless first half of extra time, Abbasi set up Pakistan's victory by moving into the circle and flicking the ball high into the nets.

This is for the first time that Pakistan have reached the final of the Commonwealth Games hockey.

But, before going into the extra time, Pakistan could not maintain their hold over their one goal lead as England exerted full force to score the equaliser and in the process gained three quick penalty corners and off the seventh Matthew Daly brought the two teams at par with just two minutes remaining.

Pakistani forwards tried to stretch both the right and left flanks, but England cut down all such attacking efforts with strong defence and taking possession of the ball for long time.

Pakistan took the lead in the 54th minute when Muhammad Shabbir guided a through pass to Abbasi whose power-packed flick landed in the roof of the nets in the 54th minute.

England stunned Pakistan by hammering the equaliser, converting their seventh short corner in the 68th minute before wasting two similar chances in two minutes in 60th and 61st minutes.

Jonathan's superb push which directly went into the nets was enough to beat the defenders and lanky Pakistani custodian Slaman Akbar.

The final is slated for sunday.

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