A day before their Pool D game against Germany, the Netherlands hockey team was seen trying out penalty shootouts on the practice pitch of the Kalinga Stadium here.
The Dutch were perhaps a bit too optimistic and overconfident about their chances at this edition of the World Cup as the shootouts will not come into effect until the knockouts.
Perhaps they should have been training for penalty corners instead of shootouts as they wasted as many as four short corner opportunities before going down 1-4 to the Germans.
World No.6 Germany are known to build on their performances during a tournament and peak at the right time. That is exactly what they have done until now.
Following their narrow 1-0 victory over Pakistan last Saturday, the Martin Haner-led Germany showed what they are capable of against the strong Dutch team, who looked almost invincible following their 7-0 thrashing of Malaysia in the first round of matches.
The Dutch were the first to get on the board via Valentin Verga’s 13th minute field goal. It looked like the scoreboard would stay at 1-0 till half-time until a special penalty corner conversion by the Germans gave them a leveller moments from the break.
A beautiful variation was deflected by Mathias Muller (30th) to put the Germans ahead. That goal gave the two-time winners the boost they needed in the second half.
The scoreline remained 1-1 until the final quarter when Germany upped the ante to score three goals on the trot in a span of six minutes.
“It’s not about the last quarter. We didn’t play well and as per our expectations in the entire match. It is a disappointing result,” Netherlands captain Billy Bakker said.
Lukas Windfeder made it 2-1 for the Germans in the 52nd minute before Marco Miltkau, who also scored against Pakistan, stretched the scoreline to 3-1 in 54th minute.
Two minutes from the final hooter and Germany were awarded a penalty stroke. Chistopher Ruhr took the shot and put it in the top right of the goal to make it 4-1 for the Germans who demolished the Netherlands, who until then looked the most menacing team of the World Cup.
“We knew before the game that we have to defend hard. Thankfully it worked well. The Dutch really pressed us well but we kept on moving all the time and it helped in winning the game,” Germany coach Stefan Kermas said.
“We have a lot of experienced players and they knew the important things… when to keep and when to apply. Till half-time the Dutch got more chances than us but in the second half our energy levels went up. This is required to win big matches. We want to top the group and qualify directly for the quarter-finals so our next match against Malaysia is also very important.”
First Published: Dec 05, 2018 21:29 IST