2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalists New Zealand made a winning start to their campaign at the ongoing 14th edition of the Men's Hockey World Cup after defeating France 2-1 in the second match of the Pool A here at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.
The match started on a steady note with both teams moving around with the ball. The first attack of the match was made by New Zealand's Stephen Jenness who tried to hit a reverse shot from the close range but French goalkeeper Arthur Thieffry blocked the attempt.
Playing contrary to what their ranking on the world list indicates, France did a good job in the first quarter to restrict New Zealand. They, however, could not hold them longer. In the 17th minute of the match, New Zealand defender Kane Russell scored the first goal for his team.
France made continuous attempts to score an equalizer but the lack of accuracy and pace did not let that happen. At the halftime, New Zealand were leading the match 1-0.
The trailing side did a good work in the third quarter to build pressure on New Zealand but the black caps also did fairly well in soaking that pressure. In the 38th minute of the match, France got their first penalty corner of the game but their skipper Victor Charlet could not be accurate with his drag flick. The third quarter ended without a goal being scored.
France entered the fourth quarter hoping to turn the game around. They were going well too as they earned two back to back penalty corners in the 54th minute of the match. French defender Victor Charlet flicked the ball towards the left bottom corner but the opposition goalkeeper spoiled the party by making an easy save.
Now it was time for New Zealand to make an attack. Unlike their opponents, New Zealand's Stephen Jenness made no mistake and unleashed a powerful backhand at the far post to give his side 2-0 lead in the match.
In the penultimate minute of the match, French skipper managed to score the sole goal for his side off a penalty corner. After full time, the scoreline read 2-1 in New Zealand's favour.