AP NEWS

Dutch edge Australia to face Belgium in field hockey final

December 15, 2018
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Netherlands players celebrate their win over Australia in the Men's Hockey World Cup semifinal match at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

BHUBANESWAR, India (AP) — The Netherlands knocked out defending two-time champion Australia in an epic semifinal to meet first-time finalist Belgium in the field hockey World Cup on Saturday.

Australia’s bid to become the first team to win three successive World Cups was undone in sudden death. The Kookaburras came back from 2-0 down with an equalizer 26 seconds from the end of normal time. In the shootout, both teams missed twice and finished 3-3, sending their semi to sudden death.

Jeroen Hertzberger scored for the Dutch, but Daniel Beale’s shot was saved by the stick of Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.

“We made it very hard for ourselves but at the end of the day we kept our focus and deserved to win,” Hertzberger said. “The shootouts were a bit nerve-breaking but there’s also something amazing about it. I had so much confidence in our goalie even after we missed.

“It’s not for nothing (Belgium) are in the World Cup final and were in the Olympic final. We’re going to have to be even better than today and then I think we have a good chance to win.”

Belgium demolished England 6-0 in the first semifinal.

Tom Boon and Simon Gougnard, whose father died on Friday, scored in the first half. Then Cedric Charlier, Alexander Hendrickx twice, and Sebastien Dockier completed the drubbing.

“It feels amazing to be in the final,” captain Thomas Briels said. “It’s going to be another really tough game. But we still have the energy to deliver one more good performance.”

It’s Belgium’s third straight major final after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and 2017 European championship, where it lost to the Netherlands 4-2.

The Netherlands will play for a record-tying fourth World Cup title after blowing a 2-0 lead against top-ranked Australia.

Glenn Schuurman and Seve van Ass’ deflected goal gave them a 2-0 lead into halftime, but Australia’s relentless pressure paid off when Tim Howard scored in the third quarter and Eddie Ockenden grabbed the last-gasp equalizer which Schuurman deflected between Blaak’s legs.

That extended the drama into the shootout and sudden death, but the Dutch prevailed to try and add to World Cup titles in 1973, 1990, and 1998.

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