Battling a two-goal deficit at half-time, Germany displayed the gumption and game plan to recover and share points with Korea 2-2 in a Pool A encounter of the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Monday.
It was a remarkable comeback by the defending champion searching for a hat-trick of triumphs in the competition. Germany extended its unbeaten match streak in the World Cup, from 2002 onwards, to 14.
In less than a quarter of an hour, Germany was laid low by the effervescence of the Koreans. Buoyed by a fourth-minute strike off a superbly flicked in penalty corner by Hyun Hye Sung, the Koreans stepped up the pressure at the German end.
The German defenders were at sixes and sevens to keep the Korean sallies under control. Kim Yung Jin from the right troubled the rivals repeatedly.
Korea scored again, a spectacular goal conceived and executed by Lee Nam Young. Moving smoothly like a snake on grass, Nam swerved around the defenders and produced a thundering backhander, almost from a zero angle that left the rangy Max Weinhold nonplussed.
A possible defeat was what the Germans were confronted with when they went in for the break. But they returned to write a different script altogether.
Confining the Koreans to their zone, the German attack, led by Matthias Witthaus and Moritz Furste, enmeshed the defenders in a series of long passes and hits.
Florian Fuchs scored an acrobatic goal after connecting a long pass from Furste.
The goal was confirmed after a referral.
Picking up the signals from there, the Germans continued to exert pressure and restored parity through Benjamin Wess.
Recovering to win
In the first match of the day, New Zealand, bewildered by an early goal, consumed a good deal of time to recover its poise and precision for a 3-2 victory against Canada.
If there were visions of a draw till late in the match they were genuine, given the challenge posed by the Canadians.
But three minutes before the whistle came the match-winner.
The iconic Ryan Archibald, fastening on to a forward pass, shot the ball into the corner of the goal.
Before Ryan's effort to take full points in Pool A the Kiwis had to devise various designs to overcome the opposition. Shea Macaleese was prominent in those workouts assisted by Nicolas Haig. Quite justifiably, Macaleese was declared Man of the match.
Mark Pearson gave Canada a great start, hoisting the lead before one could say Jack Robinson. But the team failed to build on the advantage as Priyesh Bhana produced the equaliser after a beautiful bout of passing with Shea.
By half-time, Canada went ahead through Philip Wright, who surged in and produced a left-handed shot that was blocked by goalkeeper Pontifex. Wright pursued the rebound and with a diving shove placed the ball into the net.
The usual Kiwi flair became visible in the second half despite some tight marking by the Canadians headed by Ken Pereira and Rob Short, the oldest player in the competition at 37. The first penalty corner for New Zealand ended with Haig levelling before Archibald came up with his effort.
Taekema on song
A three-in-row strike from penalty corners by Taeke Taekema — the 50th hat-trick in the World Cup — enabled former champion the Netherlands beat Argentina 3-0 in the last match of the day.
The results: Pool A: New Zealand 3 (Priyesh Bhana, Nicolas Haig, Ryan Archibald) bt Canada 2 (Mark Pearson, Philip Wright). HT 1-2.
Korea 2 (Hyun Hye Sung, Lee Nam Young) drew with Germany 2 (Florian Fuchs, Benjamin Wess). HT 2-0.
The Netherlands 3 (Taeke Taekema 3) bt Argentina 0. HT 2-0.
Tuesday's matches: South Africa vs. England (4.35 p.m.); Pakistan vs. Spain (6.35 p.m.); India vs. Australia (8.35 p.m.).