Defending champion Germany and the Netherlands joined England and Australia to complete the semifinal line-up in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup on Tuesday.

Korea, the Asian powerhouse, missed the berth by a whisker after subduing the Dutch. The 2-1 victory for Korea was insufficient to cover up the goal-difference which eventually stood at plus 10 for the Netherlands and plus eight for Korea.

A splendid mix of professional efficiency and technical competence gave Germany a 5-2 victory over New Zealand to confirm the last four place and the top spot in Pool A with 11 points.

Champion stuff

Chased by Korea and the Kiwis, the Germans were compelled to peak and peak they did with masterly efficiency.

Every move mirrored the mode and method, as though programmed in a computer. Stunning deflections and tricky tactics in penalty corners were there for all to see.

The first goal erupted in a flash. A long shot by Florian Fuchs from outside the zone was deflected in by Christoph Menke even before the seasoned New Zealand goal-keeper Pontifex could bat an eyelid.

Then came an essay in executing rebounds even as Martin Zwicker made repeated raids. Max Muller's crafty penalty corner was stopped by Pontifex and Fuchs pounced on the rebound to slot the second.

Philip Witte threw himself forward like a swimmer entering the water to connect a Jan Philip free hit for the third.

Temporary setback

The Germans lost the plot momentarily and some loose work inside the circle gave the Kiwis a chance to hit back. And hit they did in quick succession — Shea Macaleese netted from a rebound and within a minute Brian Nicolas, the most hard-working of the lot in the frontline, zoomed in to score. The Kiwis had procured the rewards for their persistence and pugnacity.

Closing the gaps to prevent any further slip up, Germany intensified the pace and struck twice in a space of two minutes. Moritz Furste converted a penalty corner and Matthias Witthaus put the issue beyond doubt. Little did one realise that the Koreans would inflict such an embarrassing defeat on the Netherlands team. By the time the clock had crossed 22 seconds, the lead emerged. A fluent workout involving the stars, Teun di Nooijer and Floris Evers, ended with Ronald Brouwer scoring.

The grip that the Dutchmen had at that point was absolute. But the Koreans were not the ones to be subjugated for long. Slowly, and imperceptibly, they began to press harder and harder.

Pushing forward

Skipper Jong Ho Seo led from the front inspiring the wingers Eun Sung and Jang Jong to apply steady pressure. The Dutch defence, having to come to terms with the rising tide of the Korean attacks, succumbed.

Five minutes before half-time, the first penalty corner came in favour of Korea. Woo Hyun Nam's immaculate drag flick left the seasoned Guus Vogles helpless.

Encouraged by this success, the Koreans escalated their pace. The Dutch had a narrow escape, thanks to the goal-line save by Jolie Wouter.

Jong Ho Seo produced what turned out to be the match-winner shortly after the break. Sensing that two more goals would push the Dutch out of a semifinal contention, the Koreans became relentless in their aggression. The Dutch defenders had a trying time in preventing the Koreans from scoring again.

In the last match of the day Argentina's 4-2 win over Canada moved it to the fourth place in the pool, on goal difference, ahead of New Zealand.

Wednesday is a rest day.

Line-up for semifinals and classification matches:

Semifinals: Germany vs. England; Australia vs. Netherlands;

Classification: 5-6: Korea vs. Spain; 7-8: India vs. Argentina; 9-10: New Zealand vs. South Africa; 11-12: Pakistan vs. Canada.

The results:

Pool A: Germany 5 (Christoph Menke, Florian Fuchs, Philip Witte, Moritz Furste, Matthias Witthaus ) bt New Zealand 2 ( Shea McCaleese, Brian Nicolas). HT 2-0.

Korea 2 (Woo Hyun Nam, Jang Ho Seo) beat Netherlands 1 ( Ronald Brouwer). HT 1-1.

Argentina 4 (Lucas Vila, Mathias Parades, Mario Almada, Tomas Innocente) bt Canada 2 (Scott Tupper, David Jameson). HT: 1-0.

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