For all its show of strength and courage throughout the junior hockey World Cup, Germany deserved to win the crown. Propelled by Niklas Wellen’s hat-trick, the five-time champion asserted its class and decimated an unheralded France 5-2 in the summit clash. It retained the title in style to take home the Roger Danet Trophy for the sixth time.
The German camp, which had checked its emotions after its hard-fought semifinal win over the Netherlands, burst into celebrations when the countdown clock on the giant electronic scoreboards flashed 00:00 in the second half at the National Stadium here on Sunday.Sense of relief
What a great sense of relief it was for the euphoric Germans, who hugged and congratulated each other and bowed to the cheering fans in the stands.
The contest began a new chapter in the Franco-German hockey rivalry. Germany’s early flamboyance resulted in the second minute goal as Wellen tapped in an accurate cross from the left. But France, brimming with a lot of self-belief, replied strongly.
The deft French half line, led by Hugo Genestet and Gaspard Baumgarten, displayed controlled possession and initiated deceptive moves.
They penetrated the German circle twice and resisted stubbornly when the defending champion applied pressure. Baumgarten banked on Pieter van Straaten’s brilliant pass from the left to shoot home the equaliser from top of the circle in the 16th minute.
Even as the game got physical, Germany wasted a penalty corner to head into the break with the scores level.
Baumgarten put France ahead by slotting in a rebound to covert its first short corner five minutes after resumption. But Wellen had other ideas as he led some sharp German attacks and discovered holes in the compact French defence.
The wily forward seized on two opportune moments to complete his hat-trick and restore Germany’s morale-boosting lead within a space of two minutes. As the French resistance began to crumble under pressure,
Wellen helped Jonas Gomoll to widen the lead in the 60th minute. Christopher Ruhr struck his ninth goal to emerge as top scorer of the event.
The Netherlands outclassed Malaysia 7-2 to finish third for the second time.
Final: Germany 5 (Niklas Wellen 2, 44, 46; Jonas Gomoll 60; Christopher Ruhr 68) bt France 2 (Gaspard Baumgarten 16, 40).
Classification matches: Third place: The Netherlands 7 (Roel Bovendeert 3; Thierry Brinkman 6, 28; Tom Hiebendaal 18, 37; Milan van Baal 23; Jelle Galema 52) bt Malaysia 2 (Zulhairi Hashim 7, 60).
Fifth place: Australia 2 (Daniel Beale 39; Jeremy Hayward 46) bt Belgium 2 (Maxime Plennevaux 25; Alexandre van Linthoudt 41) via tie-breaker [Australia 3 (Beale, Dylan Wotherspoon, Matthew Dawson) bt Belgium 2 (Plennevaux, Mathew Cobbaert)].
Seventh place: New Zealand 4 (Jeremy Morris 11; Kane Russell 17, 32, 70+) bt Korea 2 (Mingyoung You 13; o.g. 26).
Final standings: 1. Germany, 2. France, 3. The Netherlands, 4. Malaysia, 5. Australia, 6. Belgium, 7. New Zealand, 8. Korea, 9. Pakistan, 10. India, 11. Argentina, 12. South Africa, 13. Spain, 14. England, 15. Egypt, 16. Canada.
Player of the final: Niklas Wellen (Germany).
Player of the tournament: Christopher Rhur (Germany).
Top scorer: Christopher Rhur.
Best goalkeeper: Edgar Raynaud (France).