Rio de Janeiro (14 August, 2016): Eight-time champions India, Australia, New Zealand and Spain bowed out medal running in the Rio Olympics men’s hockey event after losing their quarterfinals matches at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro Park on Sunday.
The Indians, who last won gold medal 36 years ago, lost 1-3 to the Belgians.
India led 1-0 through Akashdeep Singh who deflected a brilliant pass from Manpreet Singh from outside the circle in the 14th minute but Belgium’s dominance paid off with Sebastien Dockier scoring a brace in the 33rd and 44th minutes and Tom Boon nailed it in the fourth quarter to see his side through to Tuesday’s semi-finals against the Netherlands.
Belgium’s remarkable run in the Rio Olympics have opened the door for a first medal since they won a bronze 96 years ago in their Olympic debut at the 1920 Games on home soil.
The Australians are also out of medal contention for the first time in 28 years after losing to the Netherlands 4-0 in the quarterfinals on Sunday. And reigning champions Germany scored twice in the last 41 seconds to beat New Zealand 3-2 and stay on track for a third successive Olympic gold medal.
Argentina breathed fresh air by reaching the semi-finals for first time in 11 Olympics by defeating Spain 2-1 on a Juan Gilardi penalty stroke just 87 seconds from fulltime.
Gonzalo Peillat’s penalty corner shot had been saved by the stick of Spain’s Miguel Delas in the goalmouth. Argentina’s Lucas Vila was first to push back the rebound, which Delas deliberately stopped with his right foot. The video evidence was clear, and Gilardi’s penalty stroke easily beat goalkeeper Francisco Cortes.
“(The match) was hard, because the whole season of this team came down to one minute,” Gilardi said. “(Cortes) tried to talk, tried to get me to not be focused on the stroke. I was sure where I was going to put the ball.”
Tuesday’s semi-finals will see the Netherlands, gold medallist at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, play Belgium, and Germany, aiming for a third consecutive gold since back-to back triumphs in 2008 and 2012, clash against Argentina.
“We never gave up. You have to beat us, and you have to constantly beat us,” Germany midfielder Moritz Furste said. “As long as there are seconds on the clock we will keep playing. We showed that again today, and we will do that a couple more times.”
The Kookaburras were the most respected team in the field, and not just for winning the London Champions Trophy in June and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia this year. But the No. 2-ranked Dutch were out sweet revenge for being crushed 1-6 in the final of their home World Cup in 2014, and redemption began after just 49 seconds in Rio de Janeiro.
Billy Bakker’s reverse hit in an unchecked run across the circle caught the Australian defence by surprise just 49 seconds into the game and set the tone. Bakker had a golden hand in the second goal to find Bob de Voogd, who swept in near the left goal post, three minutes before the end of the second quarter.
After halftime, Valentin Verga perfectly met Jeroen Hertzberger’s cross as the Dutch led 3-0, then Mink van der Weerden, whose 11-match Olympic scoring streak ended on Friday, started a new streak, capping the Netherlands’ biggest win over Australia in a major event in 14 years.
“On everything we had an answer today. That’s the biggest compliment we can get as a team,” Netherlands captain Robert van der Horst said. “We didn’t have one time a feeling they would score a goal or we concede one.”
The end came for Australia’s streak of six straight medals at Olympics that began at the 1992 Barcelona Games. It was also the end of the line for Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles, the last active 2004 gold medallists.
“It’s a performance that we will be bitterly disappointed (about),” Knowles said. “Splattering, spluttering, we couldn’t get any really flow (in the competition), and today we just played against an amazing Dutch team. Take nothing away, that was exceptional hockey to be on the other end of.”
New Zealand had never beaten Germany in a major event, but opened the scoring through Hugo Inglis’ brilliant solo act, the Kiwis only goal-shot of the first half. The Black Sticks survived some heart-thumping moments to make it 2-0 against the run of play 12 minutes from time through Shea McAleese off a penalty corner.
But a rejuvenated Germany charged back when Furste put a penalty corner shot through the goalkeeper’s legs with four minutes and 30 seconds remaining, and scored the second with 41 seconds to go. The Germans erupted like they’d won, and a shootout was on the cards.
But New Zealand tried to work a penalty corner, and Germany counter-attacked. Timur Oruz weaved his way down the right wing and threaded a pass between five Black Stick defenders and Florian Fuchs dived to connect with the middle of his stick and score as the clock went 0:00.
“That was the best New Zealand performance I’ve ever seen,” Furste said. “The moment when it counted we were unbelievably lucky.”
The women’s quarterfinals on Monday are between New Zealand and Australia; United States takes on Germany; Great Britain locks horn with Spain; and Netherlands entertains Argentina.
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