Belgium Enter Maiden Hockey World Cup Final, to Play Netherlands
Olympic silver medallist Belgium created history by reaching their maiden final of men's hockey World Cup, after thrashing England 6-0 in a lopsided first semi-final in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, 15 December.
The Red Lions will now go up against Netherlands, who reached the summit clash after defeating two-time defending champions Australia 4-3 in sudden death, on Sunday, 16 December.
World no 1 Australia, who were denied a hat-trick of World Cup titles, will look for a consolation bronze medal when they take on England in the third-fourth place play-off match, also on Sunday .
Belgium Maul England 6-0
Alexander Hendrickx (45th, 50th minutes) converted two penalty corners, while Tom Boon (8th), Simon Gougnard (19th), Cedric Charlier (42nd) and Sebastien Dockier (53rd) were the other goal scorers for World no 3 Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium.
Prior to this, the Red Lions' best performance in the World Cup was a fifth-place finish in the last edition of the tournament at The Hague, Netherlands in 2014.
The Belgium players, who wore black armbands to pay respect to their teammate Gougnard whose father passed away before the match, dominated possession in the first two quarters and created a couple of promising chances, two of which resulted in goals.
It didn't take long for Belgium to take the lead as Boon deflected in Florent van Aubel's measured cross from the left in the eighth minute.
Belgium doubled their lead in the 19th minute through Gougnard, who scored from a rebound after Hendrickx's flick from their first penalty corner was saved by England captain and goalkeeper George Pinner.
Just a minute after the change of ends, England secured their first penalty corner, but the world number seven failed to capitalise on the opportunity.
Belgium extended their lead in the 42nd minute through Charlier, who scored with a fierce shot from a close range.
Seconds from the end of the third quarter, Belgium made it 4-0 when Hendrickx found the back of the English net from his team's second penalty corner.
Belgium continued to toy with the English defence and pumped in two more goals in the fourth and final quarter to make the last-four contest a thoroughly one-sided affair.
Another penalty corner resulted in another goal through Hendrickx, in the 50th minute, before Dockier scored from a field effort three minutes later to complete the rout.
Netherlands Crush Australia’s Hat-trick Dream
World no. 4 Netherlands took a sweet revenge of their 1-6 loss to the Kookaburras in the summit clash of the 2014 World Cup at the Hague.
The match went into shoot-out after both Netherlands and Australia were locked 2-2 at the end of regulation 60 minutes.
Glenn Schuurman (9th minute) and Seeve van Ass (20th) scored for the Dutch before Tim Howard (45th) converted a penalty corner and Eddie Ockenden (60th) found the equaliser for Australia just 26 seconds from the final hooter.
In the shoot-off, Daniel Beale, Tom Craig and Jake Whetton scored for Australia while Jeroen Hertzberger, Van Ass and Thijs van Dam were on target for the Dutch to take the encounter into sudden death.
But it was not to be Australia's day, as Beale's attempt was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak after Hertberger scored to take Netherlands to their second consecutive World Cup final.
Netherlands took the lead in the ninth minute of the game through Schuurman, who scored from close range after being set up by Jonas de Gues' brilliant run down the right flank.
Van Ass doubled Netherlands' lead after his shot from right corner of the box went into the goal following a deflection from Australian Tim Howard's stick.
Trailing by two goals, the Australians came out with purpose after the change of ends as they attacked in numbers in search of breakthroughs.
Australia pulled a goal back just at the stroke of third quarter through Howard who scored from a penalty corner after their variation went wrong.
In the 53rd minute, an alert Blaak came up with a wonderful reflex save to keep out Flynn Ogilivie's diving effort and then five minutes later the Dutch keeper made another stunning save to deny Blake Govers from Australia's fourth penalty corner.
But the Australians did not give up hope and fought till their last breath, which resulted in getting the equaliser just 26 seconds from full time through Ockenden and take the match into shoot-out.
(With inputs from PTI)
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