Dutch eves kick off title defence in superb style

 Dutch forward Kim Lammers scored twice on her Olympic debut as the Netherlands took its first step toward retaining the Olympic women’s hockey gold, beating newcomers Belgium 3-0.

Lammers is the most-capped Dutch player, having played her first international game in 2002, but she was not chosen for the Athens 2004 team and a knee injury forced her to miss the Beijing Olympics.

She scored near the end of the first half and again with a near-post finish in the 42nd minute. Caia van Maasakker sealed the Dutch win late in the second half, making the most of a penalty corner to smash the ball into the net.

Eva de Goede, who set up Lammers’ first goal, marked her 100th appearance for the Netherlands.

The 17-year-old Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe put up a strong defence against a constant barrage of attacks from a Dutch team that controlled the game from the start and had 25 opportunities on goal. The Belgium team had only two chances, one from a penalty corner and another from open play.

Earlier, Cathryn Finlayson scored in the third minute to give New Zealand a 1-0 victory over old rival Australia.

Australia are three-time Olympic champions, but its last gold medal performance was at home during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. New Zealand, meanwhile, is improving after failing to win a single match at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Results: Group A: Netherlands: 3 (Kim Lammers 33rd, 42nd, Caia van Maasakker 60th) bt Belgium: 0; China: 4 (Ma Yibo 26th, 67th, Zhao Yudiao 51st, Li Hongxia 54th) bt Korea: 0.
Group B: New Zealand: 1 (Cathryn Finlayson 19th) bt Australia: 0.

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