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Germany wins gold in Olympic men's hockey

Beijing, Aug 24: Germany has annexed the Olympic men's hockey gold medal after 16 years with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Spain.

Christopher Zeller netted the winner in the 16th minute with a ferocious penalty corner before the Germans warded off repeated Spanish attacks to strike gold in hockey's 100th year at the Olympics. Germany added the Olympic title to the World Cup triumph two years ago, reinforcing its credentials as the sport's foremost nation despite losing the number one ranking to Australia in June.

The Spanish strikers, led by the seasoned Santi Freixa, raided the rivals' half through 70 minutes of gripping hockey, but could not get past the sturdy German defence which packed a powerful punch.

Freixa, who had scored five goals in the competition, failed to convert three penalty corners as Germany built on the 1-0 win over Spain in the preliminaries.

Germany improved upon its bronze medal finish at Athens four years ago when it beat Spain 4-3 in the play-off.

It is Germany's first gold medal since the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

It is also two-in-a-row for coach Markus Weise, who led the German women's team to its maiden Olympic title in Athens before taking up the men's job after Bernhard Peters switched to football.

Spain lived up to its billing as the best team never to have won the Olympic gold as it faltered for the third time after losing finals to India in 1980 and the Netherlands in 1996.

Story first published: Sunday, August 24, 2008, 11:18 [IST]
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