Bhubaneswar, Jan 25: Germany edged out England in penalty shootout under dramatic circumstances after trailing 0-2 two minutes before regulation time to book a berth in the FIH Men's World Cup semifinals where the Netherlands joined them with a win over South Korea here on Wednesday (January 25).
Germany struck in the 58th and 59th minutes through captain Mats Grambusch and his younger brother Tom to take the quarterfinal match to the penalty shootout where they prevailed over a heart-broken England team 4-3, snatching a win from the jaws of defeat.
Germany, who had finished second in Pool B and defeated France 5-1 in the crossover match, face three-time champions and last edition bronze medallists Australia in the semifinals on Friday (January 27).
In the second quarterfinal match of the day at the Kalinga Stadium, last two editions runners-up Netherlands ended gritty South Korea's more-than-expected run in the tournament with a 5-1 win to set up a last-four clash with Belgium on Friday.
South Korea, who had stunned 2016 Rio Olympics champions Argentina in the crossover match on Monday, yet again punched above their weight as they gave a spirited fight to their more fancied opponents, ranked third in the world.
South Korea are ranked ninth in the world. South Korea were the only Asian side that remained in the quarterfinals. The vociferous spectators at the Kalinga Stadium thought that England would wrap up the match comfortably after Zachary Wallace (12th) and Liam Ansell (33rd) had given them a 2-0 lead but, to their astonishment, the Germans came back roaring to score goals in the 58th and 59th minutes through Mats and Tom Grambusch respectively.
Just before that Christopher Ruhr had wasted a chance from the penalty stroke in the 57th minute. When Germany was training 1-2 and got a penalty stroke with one minute to go in the match, Mats asked his younger brother Tom to take it. Tom made no mistake from the spot to take the match to the penalty shootout.
Niklas Wellen, Hannes Muller, Prinz Thies and Christopher Ruhr scored for Germany in the shootout. For England, James Albery, Zachary Wallace, Phil Roper struck while David Goodfield missed.
"It was a crazy match for sure, we were behind for most of the match. But we were able to convert the chances that came our way late in the match. It shows the character of the team," Mats said.
"Our parents must be watching this match and they must be extremely happy seeing that we both scored in a crucial match for the team and country," Tom said.
The German fightback was reminiscent of their national football team which is famous for its never-say-die attitude. "It is a cruel game, you were 2-0 up less than five minutes to go in the match and you lost the game," rued England captain David Ames. England had directly made it to the quarterfinals after topping Pool D ahead of India.
They started as the more attacking side and took the lead in the 12th minute after Jack Waller, Stuart Rushemere and Zachary Wallace combined beautifully. Waller cut into the striking circle from the right and Rushemere weaved around three German defenders before Wallace slammed home with a tennis-like volley.
Wallace had another go at the German goal but his shot, after dodging past a defender in the second quarter, was blocked by the goalkeeper. Germany pressed in the second quarter with a lot more players upfront but England defended well with man-to-man marking. But the relentless German attack resulted in their and the match's first penalty corner, which they wasted.
The Englishman did not give space to the Germans whenever they entered the striking circle. Harry Martin got space and time to take a shot but the goalkeeper was again at the thick of things as he blocked Germany's second penalty corner two minutes from halftime.
Trailing 0-1 at halftime, Germany let themselves down as Timur Oruz received a green card in the 31st minute for a two-minute suspension, and England pounded on that advantage to earn two back-to-back penalty corners and double their lead from the second one.
Liam Ansell made a soft touch of the ball after the stopper put it on his path and then sent a powerful shot which beat the German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler all ends up. Germany were under tremendous pressure in the third quarter as Christopher Ruhr was shown a yellow card in the 38th minute for a five-minute suspension.
Just before the end of the third quarter, play was stopped after England's Liam Sanford fell down on the turf and a few of his teammates surrounded Ruhr but the umpires were able to calm the players down.
Germany got a penalty stroke in the 57th minute but Christopher Ruhr's shot hit the crossbar. But one minute later, captain Mats Grambusch pulled one back with a field goal.
The match ended 2-2 in dramatic fashion and just a few seconds later, Mats' brother Tom scored from a penalty stroke. With 38 seconds left in the regulation time, Germany earned a penalty corner but England defended it under tense circumstances. In the second quarterfinal match, Koen Bijen (27th and 31st) struck twice while Justen Blok (36th), Steijn van Heijningen (50th) and Teun Beins (58th) scored the other goals for the Netherlands.
Inwoo Seo (51st) scored the consolation goal for South Korea. One would have thought that the Netherlands would roll over South Korea. But it was not to be as the small Asian country fought tooth and nail and were not intimidated by the reputation of their opponents.
Both South Korea and the Netherlands were goalless in the first quarter with both sides earning two penalty corners each without utilising any of them. The Netherlands were the dominant side in the second session with more circle penetration and took the lead three minutes from the first half, with Koen Bijen scoring a field goal.
The nimble-footed Koreans, however, did not just sit back. They made quick counter-attacks and forced two penalty corners though they could not convert any of them. From the second penalty corner, penalty corner specialist Jang Jonghyun's drag flick hit German umpire Ben Goentgen on the face after the ball deflected from the stick of a Dutch defender.
Goentgen, who fell down in pain before regaining composure, was helped out of the field and reserve umpire, Raghu Prasad of India, took charge for the remainder of the match.
The Netherlands took the game out of South Korea's reach in the third quarter with two goals in the space of five minutes. Bijen got his second goal from a penalty corner in the 31st minute before Justen Blok struck a field goal in the 36th minute.