Hockey: Belgium stun Dutch to set up title clash with Argentina

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 17 (IANS) Belgium stymied favourites the Netherlands 3-1 to set up the men’s hockey final clash with Argentina at the Olympics between the two first-time finalists.

World No.6 Belgium on Tuesday clearly did not feel the pressure of the occasion as they turned the rankings upside down to claim their first ever Olympic final appearance by defeating European champions the Netherlands, the number two ranked team in world hockey.

A cagey, goal-less first period was followed by three goals in four second quarter minutes just before half time. Jerome Truyens lashed home a penalty corner rebound to put the Red Lions ahead before Belgium captain John-John Dohmen doubled the advantage from close range after great work from Cedric Charlier.

Mink van der Weerden reduced the deficit a minute before half time, but the result was put beyond all doubt by Florent van Aubel early in the fourth quarter, who guided the ball home after being perfectly supplied by the inspirational Thomas Briels to give Belgium one of the finest results in their history.

“It’s a historical night,” said Dohmen, reflecting on the match. “It was a great game, amazing against Holland. I think we’ve never beaten them in an official tournament. Now we are doing the perfect tournament, the tournament for life and it’s at the right moment, at the Olympics.”

When asked about gold medal match opponents Argentina, Dohmen said: “They played a perfect game in the semi-finals. I think this is the two best teams for the moment, that are playing in the final.

“We never know what will happen in the final in the Olympics. In the past it was always really close. I watched on television all the finals. I watched in the past. Now I will play it. I can’t believe it.”

Earlier on Tuesday, drag-flick dynamo Gonzalo Peillat fired a hat-trick as Argentina ended Germany’s hopes of a third straight title with a 5-2 victory.

Peillat employed powerful flicks to the right of Germany goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi in the ninth, 12th and 28th minutes in the first semi-final to help world No.7 Argentina reach the title clash for the first time.

–IANS

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