BHUBANESWAR: India’s 43-year long wait to reach a Hockey World Cup semi-final continued after going down 1-2 to the Netherlands at the jam-packed Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.
Thierry Brinkmann (14th minute) and Mink van der Weerden (50th) scored for the Dutch, who advance to a tantalising last-four clash against Australia, while India, looking to make the semi-finals for the first time since 1975, scoring through Akashdeep Singh (12th).
In the day’s other quarter-final, Olympic silver medallists Belgium edged out two-time champions Germany 2-1 in a keenly-contested clash to reach the semis for the first time.
Dieter Linnekogel scored at the end of the first quarter for Germany but Alexander Hendrickx levelled for Belgium in the second from a penalty corner. Tom Boon scored the winner 10 minutes from time.
European champions Netherlands and top-ranked Australia face each other on Saturday, four years after meeting in the final at The Hague, where the Kookaburras humbled the Dutch 6-1. Belgium will play England in the other semi-final this weekend.
India and the Netherlands started with a bang in an eventful first quarter that witnessed Akashdeep giving the hosts ahead in the 12th minute with a brilliant reverse flick after the initial penalty corner attempt was parried by the Dutch goalkeeper.
The visitors pulled off a stunning equaliser just before the end of the first quarter, thanks to Brinkmann hitting the box.
The second quarter saw both teams battling for the lead even as the Dutch managed to keep possession. They earned three back-to-back penalty corners in early in the third quarter, only to find the Indian defence too strong.
With both sides desperate for the winner, the Netherlands started the final quarter by successfully converting their fourth penalty corner. Van Der Weerden hit the ball dead straight only to find India’s custodian P.R. Sreejesh wrong footed as the ball found the target.
The Dutch held on after that to advance to the semis alongside Belgium who prevailed earlier in the day against the Germans.
The European rivals engaged in an intriguing battle with Belgian defender Arthur Van Doren emerging as the standout player as he kept the German strikers at bay.
Germany took the lead against the run of play in the 14th minute when an unmarked Linnekogel scored from top of the circle after receiving a pass from Tom Grambusch.
Stunned by the goal, Belgium went for the offensive and levelled three minutes into the second quarter when Hendrickx scored with a grounded flick.
Belgium got the all-important winner through Boon who scored from a rebound after skipper Thomas Briels’s initial try was saved by German keeper Tobias Walter.
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2018