Gold-medal favorite Australia will not medal in Olympic men’s field hockey for the first time in 28 years after losing to the Netherlands 4-0 in the quarterfinals on Sunday. And Germany scored twice in the last 41 seconds to beat New Zealand 3-2 and stay on track for a third successive Olympic gold medal.
“We never give up. You have to beat us, and you have to constantly beat us,” Germany midfielder Moritz Furste said. “As long as there are seconds on the clock we will keep playing. We showed that again today, and we will do that a couple more times.”
Meanwhile, Argentina and Belgium were breathing rarefied air when they reached the medal rounds. It’s Argentina’s first time in the semifinals in 11 Olympics, and Belgium last played for a medal in 1928.
The semifinals on Tuesday see the Netherlands play Belgium, and Germany face Argentina.
The Kookaburras were the most feared team in the field, and not just for taking the Champions Trophy and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup this year. But the No. 2-ranked Dutch were out for payback for being crushed 6-1 in the final of their home World Cup in 2014, and redemption began after just 49 seconds in Rio de Janeiro.
Billy Bakker’s reverse hit in an unchecked run across the circle caught the Australian defense too narrow, and set the tone.
Bakker turned provider just before halftime when he stepped and leaped over three sticks up the middle to find Bob de Voogd, who swept in near the left post.
After halftime, Valentin Verga perfectly met Jeroen Hertzberger’s cross for 3-0, then Mink van der Weerden, whose 11-match Olympic scoring streak ended on Friday, started a new streak, capping the Netherlands’ biggest win over Australia in a major event in 14 years.
“On everything we had an answer today. That’s the biggest compliment we can get as a team,” Netherlands captain Robert van der Horst said. “We didn’t have one time a feeling they would score a goal or we concede one.”
The end came for Australia’s streak of six straight medals at Olympics that began at the 1992 Barcelona Games. It was also the end of the line for greats Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles, the last active 2004 gold medalists.
“It’s a performance that we will be bitterly disappointed (about),” Knowles said. “Splattering, spluttering, we couldn’t get any really flow (in the competition), and today we just played against an amazing Dutch team. Take nothing away, that was exceptional hockey to be on the other end of.”
New Zealand had never beaten Germany in a major event, but opened the scoring through Hugo Inglis’ brilliant solo score, New Zealand’s only goal-shot of the first half. The Black Sticks survived some hairy moments to make it 2-0 against the run of play 12 minutes from time through Shea McAleese off a penalty corner.
But Germany was re-energized when Furste put a penalty corner shot through the goalkeeper’s legs with 4 1/2 minutes left, and hit in a second with 41 seconds to go. The Germans erupted like they’d won, and a shootout was on the cards.
But New Zealand tried to work a penalty corner, and Germany counter-attacked. Timur Oruz carried down the right wing and threaded a pass between five Kiwis. Florian Fuchs dived to connect with the middle of his stick and score as the clock went 0:00.
“That was the best New Zealand performance I’ve ever seen,” Furste said. “The moment when it counted we were unbelievably lucky.”
There was also late drama as Argentina defeated Spain 2-1 on a Juan Gilardi penalty stroke just 87 seconds from fulltime.
Gonzalo Peillat’s penalty corner shot had been saved by the stick of Spain’s Miguel Delas in the goalmouth. Argentina’s Lucas Vila was first to push back the rebound, which Delas deliberately stopped with his right foot. The video evidence was clear, and Gilardi’s stroke easily beat goalkeeper Francisco Cortes.
“(The match) was hard, because the whole season of this team came down to one minute,” Gilardi said. “(Cortes) tried to talk, tried to get me to not be focused on the stroke. I was sure where I was going to put the ball.”
Belgium beat India 3-1, coming from behind. India led into the second half, but Belgium’s dominance paid off with a Sebastien Dockier double and Tom Boon’s cool solo goal to ensure they can still win a first medal since a bronze on Olympic debut at their 1920 home Olympics.
The women’s quarterfinals on Monday are, in order: New Zealand vs. Australia; United States vs. Germany; Britain vs. Spain; and Netherlands vs. Argentina.