Spain stuns Australia to meet Germany in Olympic men's hockey final

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Beijing, Aug 21 (UNI) On a day that saw many unexpected results, Spain stunned defending Champions Australia 3-2, while Germany knocked out Holland 5-4 in a sudden death penalty shoot out to set up a summit clash in the Olympic hockey competition here tonight.

Spain came back strongly from a two-goal deficit to make the final of the men's hockey tournament with a 3-2 victory over Athens Olympic champions Australia.

Australians were looking to run away with the match as the Athens Olympics' champions did not take much of time and opened the scoring in the very first minute.

Des Abbott flicked a cross by Travis Brooks across the goal line to give Australia a 1-0 lead in the first half.

Australia increased the goal difference just two minutes into the second half when 21-year old striker Eddie Ockenden dropped a pass by Abbott into an empty Spanish goal in the 37th minute.

But Spain battled their way in the match as two minutes later, Eduard Tubau flicked a rebound over the Australian goalie, pulling the Spaniards back into the match.

Tubau levelled the scores with a flick in the 44th minute before Santiago Freixa scored the winner from a penalty corner in the dying moments of the match.

Earlier in the day, in a tense encounter, World Champion Germany stroked out arch rival Holland 5-4 in a sudden death shootout to book a place in the finals.

Ironically, the man responsible for Dutch defeat was their hero Taeke Taekema who missed the crucial first sudden death penalty stroke to see Germany take place for the summit meet following an epic battle in the first semi-finals.

It was all square at 1-1 till the scheduled 70 minutes of play and later during the extra 15 minutes of action. Even the five penalty strokes given to each team produced the same result with both teams scoring three times each.

When it came to sudden death penalty strokes, Germany scored through experienced Christopher Zeller while Taekema's high scoop deflected over the bar by German goalkeeper Max Weinhold to the jubilation and delight of the German players and fans.

In an edge of the seat encounter, Germany had an edge in the initial stages. Holland however, fought back well and produced stunning stuff late in the second half.

In the process they earned their second penalty corners.

Taekema's bullet push was deflected in the net by Timme Hoyng for the opening goal of the match in 66th minute.

Netherlands coach Roelant Oltmans had hardly settled down from jumping with joy at the sideline when Germany pulled back the equaliser through Philipp Zeller who was standing unmarked at the goalmouth.

Even the two halves of the extra time did not produce any results and both teams were awarded five penalty strokes each.

Taekema, Ronald Brouwer and Nooijer Teun scored for Holland while Germany netted penalty strokes through Christopher Zeller, Niklas Meinert and Tibor Weissenborn.

Rob Reckers and Weusthof's strokes were saved well by the German keeper while Keller and Philip Zeller missed opportunities for Germany to score goals on penalty strokes.

Germany and Spain will fight for gold and Australia will take on Holland for bronze on Saturday.


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