Spain and Netherlands secure Olympic berths

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The men's hockey teams of Spain and the Netherlands secured berths at the Olympic Games on Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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The men's hockey teams of Spain and the Netherlands secured berths at the Olympic Games on Sunday. At the qualifying tournament in Madrid, the hosts defeated Great Britain 2-1 in Pool A. Later in the day, the Netherlands went top of the group, thanks to a 4-0 win over Poland. In Sunday's other fixture, South Africa defeated Japan 2-1. Two teams with very different needs started proceeding at the Madrid's Club de Campo on Sunday. Great Britain desperately needed a victory to keep alive their Olympic qualifying hopes. Danny Hall's 37th minute field goal certainly helped. Spain though, were on the verge of securing a place in Athens in the summer. Veteran Xavier Ribas put them back on level terms in the 41st minute. A near-identical second for Ribas 14 minutes later earned the Spanish a hard-fought 2-1 win - their third success in four games - and with it, that all-important qualifying place. Netherlands beat Poland The Netherlands encountered no such problems in brushing aside the challenge of Poland. Floris Evers put them on their way in the 11th minute. And Erik Jazet made it 2-0 in the 28th minute. The Dutch spurned several further chances and had to wait until four minutes from time to extend their lead through Teun de Nooijer. A real rarity this game with all the scores coming from open play, de Nooijer completed the rout in the final minute. The Poles struggled to create anything offensively and managed just one penalty corner during the whole match. As for the Dutch, they too are now Athens-bound. South Africa win South Africa did their chances of progressing to the Olympics no harm - but that had to come from behind against Japan. Takahiko Yamabori gave the Asians an 11th minute lead. That was cancelled by Greg Nicol in the 43rd minute. And the same man earned the South Africans their second victory in four matches with a strike from a penalty corner in the 65th minute. (AP)

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