Germany dash Belgium’s hopes of title defence, clinch 3rd World Cup crown

Bhubaneswar, 29 Jan: Germany ended Belgium’s dominance in global hockey in the last five years as they made yet another stunning comeback from two-goal deficit to beat the defending champions in penalty shootout to win the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup for a third time here on Sunday.
The two sides were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time of the thrilling final before Germany eventually won 5-4 in sudden death in front of a packed Kalinga Stadium.
Niklas Wellen (29th), Gonzalo Peillat (41st) and captain Mats Grambusch (48th) scored for Germany in the regulation time while Florent van Aubel Florent (10th), Tanguy Cosyns (11th) and Tom Boon (59th) found the target for Belgium.
This was the third time in the tournament that Germany had won after trailing 0-2 and their mental strength and never-say-die attitude came to the fore again as they denied the Belgians to defend their title.
The earlier two matches were against England in the quarterfinals and Australia in the semifinals.
Germany joined Australia and Netherlands to have clinched the World Cup title three times. Their earlier triumphs had come in 2002 and 2006. Only Pakistan have won the event four times.
A day before the summit clash, head coach Andre Henning had said that Germany have given massive focus on their defence but a two-minute Belgium blitzkrieg left them in daze.
Van Aubel gave Belgium the lead in the 10th minute. The ball got a deflection and went up inside the German ‘D’. Aubel leapt in the air and smashed it down into the German goal.
Even before the packed crowd barely settled down after the first goal, Cosyns made it 2-0 as he got down on his knees and tapped in a Antoine Kina cross from the left.
Germany took a referral for a back stick but the video umpire ruled against them.
Belgium could have been 3-0 up in the first minute of the second quarter but for German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler who brilliantly palmed away an effort from Gauthier Boccard from a penalty corner variation.
Germany had the golden chance to pull one back in the 19th minute but Tom Grambusch wasted a penalty stroke with Vincent Vanasch making a stunning save.
Considered the best goalkeeper in the world, the 35-year-old Vanasch correctly predicted Grambusch’s powerful shot directed at the right top corner. The ball deflected from Vanasch’s stick and hit the post.
The never-say-die Germans reduced the deficit two minutes before the breather as Wellen struck from a penalty corner variation.
Trailing 1-2 at half time, Germany had a chance to restore parity in the 40th minute when Hannes Muller’s shot was deflected towards the Belgium goal by Marco Mailtkau but an alert Vanasch padded it away to safety.
The Germans kept on pressing and got the equaliser in the 41st minute when penalty corner expert Peillat, who had scored a hat-trick in the semifinals, sounded the board to make the scoreline 2-2.
The match then turned on its head as captain Mats Grambusch gave Germany the lead for the first time in the match three minutes into the fourth quarter after an exchange of pass with Thies Prinz.
Prinz sent a defence-splitting pass after receiving the ball from Grambusch and it looked like that the German captain would not able to reach to the ball. But Grambusch pulled off a smashing reverse hit which went through the legs of Vanasch into the German goal.
It was one of the few occasions when Vanasch finished second best in a duel. (PTI)