Ipoh (Malaysia): New Zealand posted their third successive victory by prevailing 3-1 over an erratic Pakistan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Sunday. By virtue of this win, New Zealand not only boosted their points tally to nine but also consolidated their position on top of the standings.
After taking a three-goal lead four minutes into the second session, the Black Sticks had to ward off numerous Pakistani raids from which the Asian champions could score only once.
New Zealand had earlier outplayed India and Argentina in their previous matches, while Pakistan has three points from their win against Argentina.
Ryan Archibald opened the scoring off a pass from Arun Panchia in the eighth minute and Andy Hayward converted a penalty corner two minutes later to help New Zealand race to a 2-0 lead.
Pakistan missed a good scoring chance in the 13th minute when a cross from Muhammad Waqas drifted across the goalmouth with two Pakistan strikers unable to push it in.
Pakistan forced two penalty corners but Muhammad Imran and skipper Sohail Abbas failed to make an impression with their shots on the New Zealand goal.
New Zealand came close to scoring two minutes into the second half when Hayward's shot rebounded off the post, but two minutes later Nick Wilson made it 3-0 by capitalising on a penalty corner rebound.
Pakistan reduced the margin with a fine deflection by Haseem Khan on a shot from Shafaqat Rasool in the 44th minute, but their domination in the second half failed to produce any more goals.
The best chance came in the 55th minute when Waqas got the ball in a crowded circle, but feebly pushed the ball straight to the goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, Rasool sent a reverse drive just wide.
Pakistan team manager Akhtar Rasool, a former Olympian, said his strikers missed several scoring chances, even though the half-line gave a good account of itself.
"It was a bad day for us, there were so many misses from the strikers," Rasool said.
"We are building the team for the Olympics and there are several youngsters in the side, who should learn from what went wrong in this match," he said.
Pakistan captain Sohail Abbas said the new-look team did not possess a lot of experience.
"It is a young team and full of energy, but in the end it came down to availing chances," he said.