Bhubaneswar, Dec 5 : Germany claimed a stunning 4-1 victory against the Netherlands on Day Eight of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup, a result which saw Die Honamas take control of Pool D ahead of the final round of group matches which take place on December 9.
Germany’s scintillating performance moved them onto six points, three points clear of second placed Netherlands, and are now favourites to top the pool and claim a direct ticket to the quarter-finals.
A draw or a win for Germany against Malaysia – who drew with Pakistan in the second match of the day – in their final pool match on December 9 would seal that all-important first place finish ahead of the Oranje.
As it so often is, the Germany versus Netherlands match was high in both quality and pace, as two fiercely competitive teams butted heads in front of a crowd that was certainly entertained.
Germany’s Christopher Ruhr had the first shot in anger, while Dutch captain Billy Bakker forced a good save from Tobias Walter before the opening goal arrived in the 13th minute.
Valentin Verga was credited with the goal, driving in from the left before seeing his cross-shot take a wicked deflection off a Germany stick to put the Netherlands – 7-0 winners against Malaysia in their opening match of this World Cup – into the lead on the occasion of Max Caldas’s 100th match in charge of the team.
Germany almost levelled a minute later when Mathias Müller hit the post with the goal at his mercy at the end of a slick penalty corner routine. While the pace of Rühr and Odisha Player of the Match Florian Fuchs certainly asked questions of the Dutch defence, the Netherlands looked the team most likely to score in the second quarter with Bakker, Jonas de Geus and Bob de Voogd all having clear sights at goal.
However, Germany dragged themselves level just before half time, with Müller this time making no mistake to finish off a penalty corner identical to the one he had earlier missed.
The Netherlands were well on top in the third quarter but failed to take advantage of numerous penalty corner opportunities. It was something that would cost them dear, with Germany producing a stunning performance in the final quarter to claim a memorable 4-1 triumph over their great rivals.
Lukas Windfeder’s low penalty corner drag-flick put Die Honamas ahead before a typical poacher’s finish from Marco Miltkau made it 3-1.
The Dutch tried to rally, but any hope of rescuing the match ended when Christopher Ruhr launched a penalty stroke high into the Netherlands goal to complete the scoring at 4-1 and put Germany firmly in control of Pool D.
“It is crazy to play 4-1 against the Dutch, we didn’t expect that,” said Germany’s Mats Grambusch after the match. “They were the better team in the third quarter, and we conceded a few penalty corners against us and they could have scored, but they didn’t because of our good defence. In the end we had the power to turn the match around in the final quarter.”
Malaysia and Pakistan took to the field in the day’s second Pool D match, with a 1-1 draw leaving Pakistan third in the pool, ahead of last placed Malaysia on goal-difference.
However, with both sides having tough opponents in their final round of matches – Pakistan play Netherlands, Malaysia take on Germany – there is still the potential for the placings to change. (UNI)