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Aus to face Spain in Champions Trophy final

Associated Press
Dec 10, 2011 at 02:25pm IST

Auckland: Australia will face Spain in Sunday's final of the Champions Trophy men's field hockey tournament in their bid to become the first team to win the elite eight-team tournament four consecutive times.

World No. 1 Australia qualified for the final when they beat host New Zealand 2-1 in their last preliminary match on Saturday to remain unbeaten at the tournament. Spain beat the Netherlands 3-1 to earn the other finals berth.

New Zealand and the Netherlands will now meet on Sunday in the bronze medal playoff, while Britain and Germany will contest fifth place, and Pakistan and South Korea will compete for seventh.

Aus to face Spain in Champions Trophy final

Spain beat the Netherlands 3-1 to enter the finals against Australia, who are unbeaten so far in the tournament. (AP Photo)

Australia qualified for a record 13th final, winning five-straight matches in Auckland to extend their winning streak at the Champions Trophy to 13 matches. The world champion will now attempt to win the tournament for the 11th time.

Des Abbott scored a lucky goal in the 14th minute on Saturday to give Australia a 1-0 lead, sending a a cross into the area which was going wide of goal before deflecting off the stick of a New Zealand defender.

New Zealand hit back four minutes from halftime when Nick Wilson won a penalty corner that was slotted home by Andrew Hayward. The goal was Hayward's third at the tournament and his seventh in Champions Trophy matches, a record for a New Zealander.

Eddie Ockenden scored Australia's winner in the 58th minute and in similar circumstances to their first goal, putting in a cross that was deflected into the goal by a defender.

Spain continued their remarkable return to form with a 3-1 win over the Netherlands, qualifying for the Champions Trophy final for the first time since 2008.

Goals from Edi Tubau, Roc Oliva and Gabriel Dabanch clinched a win for Spain, which has improved dramatically since their sixth-place finish at the EuroHockey Nations Championships last summer.

Spain took the lead inside two minutes through Tubau and added a second in the 25th minute when Santi Freixa set up Oliva who touched the ball over the goalkeeper's pads.

The Netherlands pulled a goal back just before halftime through Bob de Voogd but were denied an equaliser by the goalkeeping of Francisco Cortes, who made saves from Rogier Hofman and Jeroen Hertzberger.

The decisive goal came in the 51st minute when Jose Carlos Ballbe worked his way into the circle from the right and set up the easiest of tap-ins for Jorge Dabanch.

Germany beat Pakistan 5-0 and Britain beat South Korea 4-3 after trailing 1-0 at halftime to qualify for the playoff for fifth.

Earlier, Australia captain Jamie Dwyer fought off competition from Ockenden, German duo Moritz Furste and Max Muller and three-time winner Teun de Nooijer of the Netherlands to win the FIH Player of the Year award.

It was Dwyer's fifth award, following wins in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010. The 32-year-old attacker has now won the annual award two times more than any other male player in history.

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