Bhubaneswar, Jan 20: The group stage action in the ongoing FIH Hockey World Cup 2023 in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela came to an end on Day 7 with the conclusion of Pool A and B games on Friday (January 20).
Australia and Belgium topped their groups, booking their quarterfinals spots, while Argentina, France, Germany and Korea now move on to the crossovers.
Holders Belgium defeated Japan 7-1 in the third match of the day and sealed their top spot in Pool B. With a draw in the previous game against Germany, The Red Lions needed a big win against Japan to try and seal their spot at the top of the pool and earn direct qualification to the quarterfinals.
The first-half hat trick by Tom Boon gave them a 4-goal lead by the end of the first half, and increased their goal difference to +9, with another 30 minutes to further extend their lead over Germany, who had a +3 goal difference with one game to go in the final match of the day against Korea.
Japan had a much better start to the second half, keeping Belgium out in the 3rd quarter and scoring their first of the game early in the 4th. But Belgium had a much better finish to the game scoring thrice in the final 10 minutes, including 2 more goals for Tom Boon, to win with a 6-goal margin and bump their overall goal difference to +11.
Tom Boon who became only the 4th ever player to score 5 goals in a World Cup game, was awarded player of the match and said: "I think after scoring no goals in the first quarter, it's good to get 7 goals and a +6 goal difference in the final 3 quarters. Looking forward to playing in the knockouts going forward."
The final game of the day was also the final game of the pool stages, with Germany needing a win by 9 goals to overtake Belgium in the Pool B standings and gain direct entry into the quarterfinals, but against an in-from Korea team that would prove to be too big a mountain to climb for the Honamas.
Germany did start the game brightly, scoring in the second minute of the game, through Niklas Wellen, but by the end of the first quarter, Korea had pulled a goal back to keep the scores level. Wellen, who is in red-hot scoring form, gave Germany their lead back before their half-time, but with just a 1-goal lead halfway through the game, German hopes of topping the group were rapidly fading.
The second half started frantically as both teams traded end-to-end counter-attacks. Korea had the best chance in the 32nd minute with Junwoo Jeong finding shooting space in the German circle, but his venomous hit sailed inches over the goal.
Wellen increased the German lead completing his hat-trick in the 41st minute and Gonzalo Peillat added another for the Honamas in the 43rd minute from their 6th penalty corner of the day.
The 4th quarter saw Germany overrun Korea in attack, scoring thrice in the first 7 minutes, but Korea retreated into their defence as German attempts at overtaking Belgium fell narrowly short. Korea added a second goal in the final minute as they won a penalty corner while the Germans had subbed their keeper out for an outfield player.
Hat-trick hero Niklas Wellen was awarded player of the match and said: "We knew how many goals we needed to finish top of the group, and we fell short by a couple of goals, but 2 wins and a draw from the three pool stage matches is a very good result for us on the whole."
Incredibly, all 4 games saw at least one player score a hat-trick, with the second game between France and Argentina producing two, as Blake Govers (AUS), Victor Charlet (FRA), Nicolas della Torre (ARG), Tom Boon (BEL) and Niklas Wellen (GER) all scored at least thrice for their teams.
A total of 38 goals were scored across the 4 games on the day, for a whopping average of 9.5 goals per game!
Source: Media Release