Germany ended Belgium's dominance in global hockey in the last five years after yet another stunning comeback from two-goal deficit to beat the defending champions in the penalty shoot-out to win the FIH Hockey men's World Cup for the third time, in Bhubaneswar, on Sunday.
The teams were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time in the thrilling final before Germany eventually won 5-4 in sudden-death in front of a packed Kalinga Stadium.
Niklas Wellen (29th minute), Gonzalo Peillat (41st) and captain Mats Grambusch (48th) scored for Germany in regulation time while Florent van Aubel Florent (10th), Tanguy Cosyns (11th) and Tom Boon (59th) were on target for Belgium.
This was the third time in the tournament that Germany won after trailing 0-2. Their mental strength and never-say-die attitude came to the fore again as they prevented the Belgians from defending their crown.
The earlier two comeback matches were against England, in the quarter-finals, and Australia, in the semi-finals.
Germany joined Australia and the Netherlands in winning the World Cup title thrice.
Their earlier triumphs were in 2002 and 2006. Only Pakistan have won the event four times.
A day before the summit clash, head coach Andre Henning had said that Germany had given massive focus on their defence, but a two-minute Belgium blitzkrieg left them in daze.
Van Aubel gave Belgium the lead in the 10th minute. The ball got a deflection and went up inside the German circle. Aubel leapt in the air and smashed the ball down into the German goal.
Even before the packed crowd had barely settled down after the first goal, Cosyns made it 2-0, getting down on his knees and tapping home an Antoine Kina cross from the left.
Germany took a referral for a back-stick but the video umpire ruled against them.
Belgium could have been 3-0 up in the first minute of the second quarter but for German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler, who brilliantly palmed away an effort from Gauthier Boccard from a penalty-corner variation.
Germany had the golden chance to pull one back in the 19th minute but Tom Grambusch wasted a penalty-stroke with Vincent Vanasch making a stunning save.
Considered the best goalkeeper in the world, the 35-year-old Vanasch correctly predicted Grambusch's powerful shot directed at the right top corner. The ball deflected from Vanasch's stick and hit the post.
The never-say-die Germans reduced the deficit two minutes before the breather as Wellen struck from a penalty-corner variation.
Trailing 1-2 at half-time, Germany had a chance to restore parity in the 40th minute but Hannes Muller's shot was deflected towards the Belgium goal by Marco Mailtkau but an alert Vanasch padded it away to safety.
The Germans kept pressing and got the equaliser in the 41st minute when penalty-corner expert Peillat, who scored a hat-trick in the semi-finals, sounded the board to make the scoreline 2-2.
The match then turned on its head as captain Mats Grambusch gave Germany the lead for the first time in the match three minutes into the fourth quarter after an exchange of passes with Thies Prinz.
Prinz sent a defence-splitting pass after receiving the ball from Grambusch and it looked like that the German captain would not able to reach to the ball. But Grambusch pulled off a smashing reverse hit which went through the legs of Vanasch into the Belgian goal.
It was one of the few occasions when Vanasch finished second best in a duel.
Tom Boon equalised for Belgium a minute from the hooter to take the match into the shoot-out.
Captain Brinkman stars as Netherlands beat Australia for bronze
Earlier, captain Thierry Brinkman struck twice as the Netherlands dished out a superb show of attacking hockey to beat world No. 1 Australia 3-1 and clinch the bronze medal.
Brinkman struck in the 35th and 40th minute while penalty-corner expert Jip Janssen scored the other goal for the Netherlands in the 33rd minute.
Australia's lone goal came from their penalty-corner expert Jeremy Hayward in the 13th minute.
The bronze meant that the Netherlands finished on the podium for the fourth time in succession; they are also equal with Australia on the maximum number of medals won in the showpiece event.
Both Netherlands and Australia have now won 10 medals each in the 15 editions of the World Cup.
The Dutch finished third in 2010 and runners-up in 2014 and 2018. They have won the title in 1973, 1990 and 1998.
For three-time champions Australia, this was the first time they are returning home without a medal after they finished fourth in the 1998 edition. They won a bronze in the last edition.