Bhubaneswar: The three-time champions Netherlands completed the semi-final line-up by breaking the hearts of host nation India, with the Dutch battling to a 2-1 success over the home favourites to keep alive their hopes of World Cup glory.
The Netherlands will now face reigning champions Australia in their semi-final, a re-match of the gold medal match at the 2014 World Cup in The Hague.The line-up for the semi-finals of the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup has been revealed following quarter-final victories for Belgium and Netherlands at Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.
Belgium's Red Lions claimed a hard-earned 2-1 triumph over Germany to secure a first World Cup semi-final appearance in their history. Their opponents in Saturday's final four meeting will be England, who defeated Olympic champions Argentina on Wednesday.
The quarter-final match between Pool D winners Germany and Belgium ? 5-0 winners against Pakistan in the cross-overs ? was fascinating from start to finish, with both teams showing attacking intent throughout. Germany were the first team to make a mark on the scoreboard a minute before the end of the first quarter through midfielder Dieter Linnekogel, who drilled a low, powerful shot through the legs of Vincent Vanasch after being expertly found by Tom Grambusch's searching pass from the right.
The Red Lions pulled level three minutes into the second period, with Alexander Hendrickx scoring his fifth goal of the competition with a perfectly executed penalty corner drag-flick. It was no more than Belgium deserved, who were thwarted on numerous occasions thanks to some terrific goalkeeping from Germany's Tobias Walter.
The high-paced action continued throughout the third and fourth quarters, with the defensive lines of both teams excelling before Belgium made what proved to be the decisive breakthrough ten minutes from the end. Shot-stopper Walter produced another fine save to deny Belgium captain Thomas Briels, but could do little about the follow-up, with Tom Boon brilliantly spinning to slide the ball under the outstretched leg of the Germany goalkeeper.
Die Honamas went for broke in the final stages, replacing Walter with an outfield player in an effort to ramp up the pressure on their European rivals. However, Belgium's defensive line ? marshalled by Odisha Player of the Match Arthur Van Doren were simply superb, running down the clock to put Belgium into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history.
Speaking after the match, Belgium's Simon Gougnard was understandably thrilled about the result, but indicated that the team's focus had already switched to Saturday's semi-final against England.
We had to fight really hard?, said Gougnard. ?We are really happy but now we have to refocus and reboot and we're looking forward to play the next game against England. The English team has some really quality players on the ball. A really physical team so we're going to have to bring our 'A' game if we want to be able to contest with them. We will have to analyse them on video and come back with a really good plan if we want to win.(UNI)