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October 1, 2000

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Play of the day: Kang's goal

Jaideep Singh  in Sydney

There were two breathtaking moments of individual brilliance during the title showdown between Holland and South Korea, which eventually went to the wire and the deadlock only broke through the tie-breaker.

South Korean skipper Kang Keon-Wook's dazzling move that saw him pierce the Dutch defence with a thundering drive on their second penalty-corner after the ball was not stopped, was the most stimulating moment of the game.

Kang had been frustrated by the Dutch defenders and the gold medal was in the grasp of Holland before his teammate Kim Kyung-Seok capitalised on the first penalty corner a minute earlier to bring Korea within one goal of the rivals.

Rushing back to the halfline to resume play after the goal, the Koreans charged forward again and showed their mettle as they forced the second penalty-corner which Kang converted.

Kang's goal was an exhibition of opportunism after the penalty-corner push was not stopped. Instead of giving up he initiated another attack by moving to the right and stunned the Dutch defence with drive that brooked no denial.

It was the most electrifying moment of the final, marking the climax of the Korean fightback. It brought the appreciative capacity crowd to its feet, applauding the never-say-die spirit of the nippy Koreans. Kangís strike was an exhibition of his presence of mind, ability to create space, conviction in his game and determination not to let go the smallest of opportunity to bring his team back into the reckoning.

Dutch captain Stephen Veen, who scored a hat-trick in the final and all but put the game out of Koreaís reach, scored his third goal out of nowhere and left the Korean defenders wondering what had hit them when he lunged forward full length to sweep the ball into the goal, utilising the fraction of a secondís delay in clearing the ball.

Veen was three yards away when the goalkeeper and defender took a look at each other to ask the question as to whose ball it would be. That was enough for Veen to dive forward and sweep the ball into the boards in a reflex action thatís become part of his game.

Both Kang and Veen would get 10 out of 10 on this day, but the Play of the Day in the photo-finish would go to Kang, whose brilliance meant more than a goal. It was the high-point of Koreaís fine run in the Olympic Games.

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