Australia powered into the final of the Champions Trophy on Thursday, with Spain defeating New Zealand in the championship pool to keep alive their chances of meeting the Australians.
The Kookaburras lived up to their world number one ranking, firing home three second-half goals to defeat the Netherlands 4-2 in Pool C and earn the right to chase a record fourth straight title in Sunday’s final.
In Pool D, Pakistan came from behind to thump South Korea 6-2.
Spain edged past hosts New Zealand 3-2 to take pole position in the race to meet Australia in the final, thanks to a David Alegre goal four minutes from time.
The victory leaves Spain in a strong position ahead of the final round of Pool C matches, but are still likely to need a win against The Netherlands on Saturday if they are to book their place in Sunday’s final.
After the competition’s opening rounds, the tournament splits into two four-nation groups. The top group, Pool C, contests the medal placings, while Pool D determines positions five to eight.
However, both the Netherlands and New Zealand could pip Spain and make the final, depending on the outcome of the last round of pool games this weekend.
In Pool D, Pakistan, who are out of medal contention, ended a three-game losing streak in Auckland, with captain Muhammad Imran and Abdul Khan both notching a brace.
Imran proved the inspiration for a Pakistan fightback after Lee Nam-Yong’s seventh minute goal gave Korea the lead, with the skipper converting a penalty corner after 15 minutes to put the Green Shirts on the board.
Khan followed up with a field goal one minute later and from there Pakistan looked assured, holding their nerve when Korea equalised and sealing the win with a four-goal burst in the final 10 minutes.
The win keeps alive Pakistan’s hopes of securing fifth place in the eight-nation event, which would guarantee a spot at next year’s competition in Argentina.