Germany scrape through

Defending champions Germany were tested till the last minute by a dogged Australia before sneaking away with a 4-3 victory for a semifinal berth in the Junior Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Thursday.

The contest between the traditional rivals and two of the best teams in the tournament lived up to its billing. 

Australia set the tone with a well-knitted move, initiated by Tyler Cowley that saw Will Gilmour score in the 8th minute. Germans fought back in the 21st minute when the dangerous Christopher Ruhr converted a penalty corner. The teams went into the half time 1-1.

The fast and action-packed second half saw a total of five goals being scored.

 Germany stood out with their fluent moves and Australia their resilience. The Germans took the lead in the 55th minute through Dieter-Enreque Linnekogel, but Dylan Wotherspoon levelled with a firm strike from top of the circle two minutes later.

The Germans responded with a swift counterattack within a minute. Nilkas Bruns gave a precise pass to Henning Huttermann in the striking circle. Huttermann’s cross found the stick of Mats Grambusch, who slammed in to give Germany a 3-2 lead.  With time slipping away, Australia took a gamble of replacing their goalkeeper with an attacking player. It proved costly as Germany extended their lead 4-2 with another counterattack in the 65th minute.

Australia hit back in the 69th minute, this time Wotherspoon scoring through a goalmouth scramble.  The yellow shirts then gave the Germans some heart-stopping moments when they sought a referral for a penalty corner, but it was turned down. 

In the semifinals , Germany will take on the Netherlands, who beat New Zealand 3-2.“Australia as a team is very good and aggressive. One cannot be afraid and play against them but our boys played very well.  To play under this type of pressure is a good experience for the boys,” said Germany’s coach Andre Henning.

 The upset of the day was however, created by France, who knocked out European champions Belgium 5-4 in a thrilling quarterfinal match. The fortunes swung sharply in the match. France stormed back from a 2-4 deficit by scoring three goals in a row and entered their first quarterfinals since 1979. “We did not stop believing in ourselves, even when down 2-4,” France coach Gael Foulard said.

France will meet a crafty Malaysia, who too made it to their first semifinals in 32 years. The Junior Asian champions, defeated South Korea 2-1 and their players shed tears of joy. “We were badly written off by the media back home and there was a lot to prove,” said Malaysian coach Muhmammad Dharma Raj Abdullah.

Results:  Netherlands: 3 (Thierry Brinkman 28th, 39th, Tom Hiebendaal  42nd) bt New Zealand: 2 (Nicholas Woods 38th, Benedict van Woerkom 60th).

France: 5 (Victor Charlet 15th, Hugo Genestet 40th, Jean-Laurent Kieffer 48th, 65th, Theophile Ponthieu 58th) bt Belgium: 4 (Gaetan Perez 29th, Maxime Plennevaux 37th, 47th, Dorian Thiery 42nd). Malaysia: 2 (Shahril Saabah 18th, 62nd) bt Korea: 1 (Seungju You 29th).Germany: 4 (Christopher Ruhr 21st, Dieter-Enrique Linnekogel 55th, Mats Grambusch 58th, Niklas Wellen 22nd) bt Australia: 3 (Will Gilmour 9th, Dylan Wotherspoon 57th, 69th).

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