Gonzalo Peillat sends adopted country Germany to WC final with sensational hat-trick
Ace drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat struck a second-half hat-trick as Germany made a sensational comeback after being two goals down to beat Australia 4-3 and enter the men's hockey World Cup final for the fifth time, in Bhubaneswar, on Friday.
Peillat scored from penalty-corners in the 43rd, 52nd and 59th minutes while 'Player of the Match' Niklas Wellen (60th) struck with just a few seconds left in the game to stun Australia, who squandered a 2-0 half-time lead in the first semi-final at the Kalinga Stadium.
Jeremy Hayward (12th minute), Nathan Ephraums (27th) and Blake Govers (58th) scored for Australia, who will now play for the bronze medal on Sunday.
Boon Tom (26th minute penalty-corner) and De Kerpel Nicolas (44th mimute field goal) scored for Belgium while Janssen Jip got the Dutch goals from penalty-corners in the 11th and 35th minute.
Germany will meet defending champions Belgium, who got the better of the Netherlands 3-2 via the penalty shoot-out after the teams were locked 2-2 at the end of full-time.
This was Germany's second comeback win after being 0-2 down against England as well in the quarter-final match. They scored twice in the last three minutes to equalise and then beat England in the penalty shoot-out to enter the semi-finals.
Two-time champions Germany recorded their first entry to the final after the 2010 edition in New Delhi, where they finished runners-up. They won the silver medal in 1982 as well before winning the title in 2002 and 2006.
Germany also took revenge for their 1-3 loss to Australia in the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals.
For three-time champions Australia, this was their second consecutive failure to enter the final. They lost to the Netherlands at the same stage in 2018, finishing with a bronze after consecutive titles in 2010 and 2014.
Australia were leading 2-0 till the 42nd minute and it looked like they would run away with the match but the three drag-flick goals from Peillat, who has played more than 100 matches for Argentina and won the 2016 Rio Olympics gold for the Las Leonas but is now a German citizen, changed the complexion of the game.
Australia took the lead in the 12th minute from the second penalty-corner they earned with Jeremy Hayward cementing his position at the top of the goal-scoring chart. He sounded the board by sending the ball to the left of goalkeeper Alexander Stadler.
A few seconds later, Stadler made a miraculous save by blocking a shot from Tim Brand.
Australia goalkeeper Andrew Charter too was tested in the second quarter as he palmed away a stinging drag-flick from Tom Grambusch off a penalty corner.
Germany exerted more pressure in the second quarter and entered the Australian 'D' several times but they could not create a clear opening. The Australians also won three video referrals against penalty-corner decisions.
It was the Germans who were attacking all along but Australia needed just one counter attack to double their lead three minute from half-time.
Lachlan Sharp found acres of space inside the German circle after a long ball from Australia's deep defence searched him out. He sent a cross for Nathan Ephraums to make a one touch before pushing it past Stadler, who was doing a fantastic job under the German goal.
Misfortune for Germany continued as a penalty stroke awarded to them in the third minute of the third quarter was overturned after Australia took a video referral.
Australia got a golden chance to increase their lead in the 42nd minute but Jake Whetton's push from the middle of the striking circle went wide.
Germany were not to be denied for long after they earned five back-to-back penalty-corners.
Gonzalo Peillat finally sounded the board to pull one back for the European side.
The German siege of the Australian citadel continued and Flynn Ogilvie made a goalline save in the 53rd minute before goalkeeper Charter did the same with a few seconds left in the quarter.
The German onslaught continued as Peillat scored his second goal of the match from their 12th PC of the day, sending a high flick into the goal.
Drama unfolded towards the end of the match as Blake Govers gave Australia a 3-2 lead in the 58th minute from his drag-flick. But Germany responded the next minute with Peillat completing his hat-trick from a penalty corner as the scores were level at 3-3.
With less than 20 seconds left in the match, Niklas Wellen, the lynchpin of the German attack, fired the ball home to seal a famous win for the Die Honamas.
Defending champs Belgium shoot-out Netherlands
The match between Belgium, the oldest side, and a young Dutch team was contested equally, but the more experienced reigning Olympic champions emerged victorious in the shoot-out.
Belgium have 11 players over 30 years of age, while the Netherlands have eight players below 25 and just two above 30.
The Red Sticks, who have come with almost the same set of players that won the Tokyo Olympics gold, are among the fittest and most experienced sides.
Jip Janssen gave the Dutch the lead in the 12th minute from the side's second penalty-corner as he sent a low drag flick past Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
The Netherlands were doing most of the attack with Floris Wortelboer making a fine run into the Belgium circle but his cross from the baseline could not find anybody near the goalmouth.
Belgium struck back three minutes before half-time with their star player Tom Boon scoring from a penalty-corner as the scoreline read 1-1 at the breather.
Younger and hence faster on their feet, the Dutch once again took the lead in the third quarter with Janssen completing his brace from a penalty-corner.
Captain Felix Denayer had two hits at the Dutch goal in the 43rd minute in a wave of attacks but goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak blocked both of them.
It was end-to-end stuff for a while and Belgium equalised just when a few seconds were left in the third quarter, with Nicolas de Kerpel firing a field goal.
In a dramatic fourth quarter, Boon wasted a penalty-stroke in the 50th minute with Blaak bending down to his right to block the shot.