The young Germans – they are the youngest team at this tournament – has been making steady progress right from the start of the tournament and on the day, they raised the bar a notch higher. Their defence was almost impregnable and their finishing clinical. England stood no chance against such an opponent, and tumbled out in the semifinals.
Germany’s rival in their bid to complete a hat-trick of titles will be Australia, who defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the second semifinal to also make their third consecutive final.
Team over individual has been the German way on every sporting platform. The first semifinal was the perfect example of that as every player contributed to the win. A special mention, however, has to be made of the defence, superbly marshalled by their captain Max Muller.
After striking two goals within the first 11 minutes, they focused on denying space to England, slowly choking the life out of the European champions in what must have been a sweet revenge for their defeat in the continental tournament final last year.
The two early strikes allowed Germany to stamp their authority. The game was barely six minutes old when Jan-Marco Montag beat James Fair with a cracking shot off their first penalty corner.
A combined move involving Tobias Hauke and Christoph Menke then saw Oliver Korn apply finishing touches in the 11th minute and England were well and truly on the back-foot.
There were some signs of recovery in the 18th minute when Richard Smith’s sizzling drive off a penalty corner beat Tim Jessulat in the German goal. Germany nipped it in the bud as Martin Haner breached the English defence for the third German goal in the 31st minute with a nice variation off a penalty corner.
There ended the English chances. Ashley Jackson tried his best to inject some life into the England attacks but he wasn’t allowed much freedom. The Germans then put the issue beyond doubt, Linus Butt netting the fourth goal off another penalty corner in the 60th minute.
Australia stuck true to their aggressive ways to outgun the Netherlands for the tenth straight time in major tournaments. Playing a pressing game, they didn’t allow the Dutchmen any liberties from the start.
The Netherlands, using all their experience and aided by some luck, kept out the Aussie attackers till the 27th minute. That was when Like Doerner took over. His awesome flick rocketed onto the nylons, giving no chance to the Dutch goalkeeper Guus Vogels.
The Dutch looked up to Taeke Taekema for an answer but the Netherlands’ most potent weapon had a disappointing time with two short corners in the first half. His first hit was easily saved while the ball wasn’t stopped properly off the second.
Australia continued to exert pressure in the second half, with the Netherlands looking for counters.
Teun de Nooijer’s men tried hard but they couldn’t throw enough men forward at the right time, leaving the Aussie defenders with an easy task.
As the Dutch struggle continued, Australia added their second goal through Glenn Turner in the 55th minute. The Netherlands pulled one back after a Taekema short corner led to a penalty stroke in the 58th. The master himself converted it for his seventh goal here but that wasn’t enough on the day.
*9-10: New Zealand vs South Africa (3.35 pm).
* 7-8: India vs Argentina (6.05 pm).
* 5-6: South Korea vs
Spain (8.35 pm).
Matches live on TEN Sports