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SA’s rousing comeback

Delhi: Justin Reid-Ross’ strike from a short corner capped a wonderful fightback by South Africa’s men’s hockey players as they beat Pakistan 3-2 in golden goal extra-time to finish fifth at the Commonwealth Games.

Pakistan had come into the match smarting from a 7-4 defeat to India and looked determined to win back some pride. They did most of the pressing in the first half and it was in the 28th minute that they got behind South Africa’s defence, took the ball to the byline and dragged it back for the flick to fly past Rassie Pieterse.

Though South Africa forced a couple of short corners they were unable to capitalise and went into the interval 1-0 down. It became worse midway through the second half when Pakistan took a 2-0 lead and they looked out of sight.

Then, in the blink of an eye with 15 minutes to go, the game was turned on its head. Firstly Reid-Ross pulled one back before Pakistan were down to 10 men following an ugly foul on Marvin Harper; he was hit on the back of his neck by a deliberate swing of his stick.

Sensing their opportunity, the South Africans surged forward and forced a short corner. From it, the defender Gareth Carr smashed home to wild celebrations from a sizeable local crowd who will support anyone but Pakistan.

The Pakistan players began to lose their cool and received frequent talkings-to from the umpire. At full-time, the scores were level 2-2 but near the end of the first half of golden goal it was yet again a short corner, this time hammered home by Reid-Ross that provided the goal – and a memorable victory.


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