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The Netherlands handed Great Britain one of the most painful defeats in recent memory, as they were thoroughly out-gunned in front of their home support. It was a breath-taking display as the interplay of Roderick Weusthof, Teun de Nooijer, Valentin Verga and Floris Evers was too hot to handle.

Billy Bakker and Weusthof were the chief profiteers, claiming a hat-trick each, while they also ran up four penalty corners from their five attempts. It was the biggest Olympic semi-final victory since India beat France 10-0 in 1936 and equalled GB’s biggest ever margin of defeat in the Olympic Games. It took little time to get into the action with Bakker and Kemperman firing pot shots inside the first three minutes.

Klaas Vermeulen was carried off with a nasty looking shoulder injury soon after before the Dutch hit the front in the seventh minute. Kemperman found a foot just ahead of de Nooijer who looked certain to score but Weusthof duly potted the corner. He got his and the Netherlands’ second from an off-kilter corner which was not stopped cleanly but was worked back to the striker who was unmarked and he slammed home off James Fair’s instep.

Ashley Jackson’s brilliant low drag-flick roused the crowd in the 19th minute and Barry Middleton’s touch to Matt Daly’s ball shaved the bar. But it was brief respite as the Dutch had the two-goal margin restored by Mink van der Weerden’s seventh goal in six games, another corner. And the fourth was hammer blow just before half-time. It was an intricate beauty of a goal as Verga took a free quickly on half-way and, via close-range passes in the circle between Weusthof and Rogier Hofman, Bakker walked in the ball.

Britain enjoyed their best spell just after the break, having two corners charged down by Hofman, Daly thrashed an effort wide and James Tindall was set clear. His composure was off, though, and could only find a Dutch stick. By contrast, the orange-shirts were calmness personified as Weusthof and de Nooijer waltzed down the baseline to lay up another Bakker goal that well and truly killed off the tie in the 45th minute, 5-1.

Bob de Voogd’s drive through Fair was tipped in by de Nooijer, Floris Evers got in on the act a minute later. Bakker bashed another in with 19 minutes to go and Weusthof’s third closed off their scoring before Rob Moore pulled one back with a nice tip-in to Glen Kirkham’s cross.

Paul van Ass was left with two major worries though as Vermuelen looks to have broken his collar bone while van der Weerden was taken to hospital for a scan on a foot injury. The Dutch will play Germany in the final while Great Britain will meet Australia for bronze.

Final Score: Netherlands 9 Great Britain 2

(Stephen Findlater)

For more information on NED vs GBR, click here

In the earlier semi-final:

Australia vs Germany 2-4 (half-time: 1-1)

Germany produced a scintillating second half display to fully merit their Olympic men’s final berth, finding their most fluid hockey of the tournament to gain a modicum of revenge on Australia. Trailing 2-1 after 43 minutes, Germany bossed Australia in a manner unseen in the tournament to date with Matthias Witthaus, Timo Wess and Florian Fuchs picking off a trio of delightfully crafted goals.

Pre-match, the European side came in with plenty of scores to settle, chief among them the 2010 World Cup final defeat and they appeared to initially cope well with the Aussies’ forceful, high press. Christopher Zeller looked in the mood. His powerful run left Joel Carroll in his wake while Kieran Govers and Matthew Swann also attempt to stall his run.

It sent the striker sprawling with a corner initially given before the video review confirmed the foul took place outside the circle. But he was the first to have a drag at goal as friendly fire clattered Matthew Butturini’s foot. Nathan Burgers stopped it well, clipping it away from the in-rushing Matthias Witthaus. The kookaburras hit the front, however, in the 22nd minute off the back of Glenn Turner’s brilliant incision. His thumping shot bounced up off Weinhold but Hamish Jamson held his whistle well and Govers walloped the ball through the German goalkeeper’s legs as he scrambled to try and block.

Sweet Eddie Ockenden and Jamie Dwyer touches almost yielded a second but Weinhold saved from Chris Ciriello – playing his 100thinternational – as well as from Govers from corners. Sandwiched between those efforts was the equaliser, Moritz Furste nailing a low corner bullet in the 26th minute, a goal that ensured parity at the half-time break. It was a pulsating battle, played at an incredible tempo throughout and this manner continued into the second half.

Glenn Turner restored the lead in the 43rd minute as a right-wing cross got hammed in Weinhold’s pads, Turner fished it out for Ockenden to slap back into the mix and the striker duly gobbled up his fourth of the campaign. The response, though, was immaculate. Oskar Deecke was denied one of the goals of the tournament by mere centimetres on a video referral when Oskar Deecke’s lob was controlled at waist-high and popped up and over Nathan Burgers’ shoulder without hitting the deck. His third touch was the one that denied the breath-taking moment, connecting just over shoulder height.

His side were level when Matthias Witthaus swept home from the right as Tobias Hauke’s pint-point pass in the 54th minute, rewarding a period of encampment in Aussie territory. And when a video referral worked in their favour to win a corner four minutes later, Timo Wess pushed home his first goal of the tournament off the back of Zeller’s spin-switch.

Then, the crowing glory. Australia, behind in a game for the first time in the tournament, pressed for an equaliser but could only find a brick wall of defenders. Hauke dispossessed them on his own penalty spot, starting a 90 metre move that set Benjamin Wess free on the left. Florian Fuchs hared forward the length of the pitch to slide onto his cross and win it with seven minutes to go.

(Stephen Findlater)

For more information on AUS vs GER, click here

Source: FIH
Photograph: 2012 Olympic Games (men), London

(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)