The Netherlands thrashed New Zealand 7-2 to claim its maiden Hero Hockey World League title at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Saturday.
The Netherlands, one of the pre-tournament favourites, dominated the contest. The Black Sticks were aggressive in the opening 15 minutes, trying to keep pace with the opposition, but were hardly a match for the Dutch. Playing with a lone striker didn’t help them either. The Netherlands controlled the midfield with long, accurate passes, possession and pace.
Constantijn Jonker opened the scoring in the 17th minute after a series of passes inside the striking circle. It was 2-0 six minutes later when Billy Bakker deflected Robbert Kemperman’s hit from the edge of the circle on the left, and 3-0 at the stroke of half time.
On resumption, the Dutch struck two goals within 10 minutes and then kept scoring at will.
Steve Edwards struck twice for New Zealand in the 37th and 52nd minutes
Belgium beats India
Earlier, India finished sixth after going down 2-1 to Belgium in the classification match. After a goalless 60 minutes, three goals were scored in the last 10 as Belgium managed to edge past the host in a game that was more about possession and counterattacks.
The result gave India 260 ranking points. Interestingly, the FIH had earlier stated that India would not receive any points since it participated only by virtue of being the host — which would take it up to seventh when the rankings are revised. This will be India’s best ranking since 2006.
The first attack came from India in the 13th minute when Affan Yousuf shot wide. Three minutes later, Cedric Charlier shot over the bar.
It was quick, end-to-end play as both teams tried to score on the counter, only to concede possession on turnovers inside the 25-yard area. While the Indians attacked with long passes, the Belgians countered with short passes to break the rival defence. Goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh kept the Belgians at bay, while the Indians missed a couple of easy chances in a goalless first period.
India pressed hard after the break, but it was Belgium which got the first opportunity to score, earning the first penalty corner in the 46th minute. But Sreejesh managed to parry the effort, and then two more in the next four minutes to keep India in the game.
Nikkin Thimmaiah, celebrating his 23rd birthday, finally broke the deadlock in the 60th minute, slotting past Vincent Vanash after the goalkeeper managed to block successive shots from Yousuf and M.B. Aiyappa.
Stung by the goal, Belgium pushed its attackers forward and eventually found the equaliser in the 67th minute.
A free hit from just outside the striking circle by Tom Boon was deflected in by Florent van Aubel.
The next minute, Boon got himself on the scoresheet with the winner, a drag-flick on Belgium’s fourth penalty corner attempt.
The results: Final: The Netherlands 7 (Constantijn Jonker 3, Billy Bakker 2, Rogier Hofman, Bob de Voogd) bt New Zealand 2 (Steve Edwards 2).
Bronze medal: England 2 (Tom Carson, Barry Middleton) bt Australia 1 (Glenn Turner).
7-8 places: Germany 2 (Benjamin Wess, Tobias Matania) bt Argentina 1 (Facundo Callioni); 5-6: Belgium 2 (Tom Boon, Florent van Aubel) bt India 1 (Nikkin Thimmaiah).
Other awards: Player of the Tournament: Robbert Kempermann (Ned); Goalkeeper: George Pinner (Eng). Young Player: Mandeep Singh (Ind); FIH Player of the Year: Tobias Hauke (Ger); FIH Young Player of the Year: Christopher Ruhr (Ger).
Keywords: Hero Hockey World League Final