Bhubaneswar: France reached the quarter-final round of the ongoing Men’s Hockey World Cup after defeating China 1-0 in their crossover clash here at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday.
With this win, France have set up a quarters clash with Pool B topper Australia. It is for the first time that France have made it to the quarter-final of a Hockey World Cup.
The match was tilted in favour of France right from the opening quarter as they made the most number of attacks with 55.50 per cent of ball possession in the first half. China, who have qualified for the first time in a hockey World Cup, seemed to be lacking some attacking attitude on the field. The defensive skills of the Chinese players were, however, sharp on the day as they deprived the French players of any goal till the first half of the match.
In the crucial concluding half, both the teams were striving hard for the goal as a lead here would have put the other team under immense pressure. Showing some resilient efforts, French player Timothee Clement rose to the occasion and gave his side the much-awaited lead.
Lockwood, with a blazing run, got to the baseline and gave a back pass to Maximilien Branicki. He made a smashing hit towards the goalpost, which was deflected by Timothee Clement directly into the net. In the very next minute, China won a penalty corner but they could capitalize on the same.
In the final minute of the match, China earned another penalty corner. They still had a chance for the equaliser. Du Talake took the shot but French goalkeeper Thieffry showed some quick reflexes and made a good save. With the final score reading scoreline read 1-0, France became the sixth team to qualify for the quarter-final round of the prestigious tournament.