Belgium beat the NetherlandsÂ in the sudden-death final toÂ win their maiden men's hockey World Cup titleÂ at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. BelgiumÂ became the sixth nation to lift the World Cup. Olympic silver medallist Belgium had created history by making their maiden appearance in the men's hockey World Cup summit clash, thrashing England 6-0 in a lopsided first semi-final on Saturday.Â Â
Belgium created history by eking out a 3-2 win in the penalty shoot-out after the final match of the game's showpiece event ended in a goalless draw. It was a great day for Belgium hockey as the country registered its second biggest international title after the Olympics silver in Rio in 2016.
Â In the last edition of the World Cup at The Hague in Netherlands, Belgium had finished fifth. The Netherlands, on the other hand, failed to match Pakistan's record of a fourth world title for the second consecutive edition. The Dutch had finished runners-up to Australia four years ago in front of their home crowd. They last won a World Cup title way back in 1998 in Utrecht.
Â Incidentally, it was the Netherlands' second consecutive match that went to shoot-out in the tournament after their victory over Australia in the semi-finals on Saturday. In Sunday's shoot-out, Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch outmatched his Dutch counterpart Pirmin Blaak by making four saves to hand his side their maiden World Cup title.
There was hardly anything to separate the two sides in the shoot-out as they were levelled 2-2 after five tries. While Jeroen Hertzberger and Jonas de Geus scored for Netherlands, Florent van Aubel and Victor Wegnez were on target for Belgium. However, the shoot-out was not without drama as Belgium needed Arthur de Sloover to score from their fifth and last attempt to win the game and he did so, sending the Red Lions bench into wild celebrations.
But the Dutch goalkeeper asked for a referral for a foot and the goal was later withdrawn after TV replays showed the ball indeed touch De Sloover's feet while he was pushing it into the net past Blaak. The reversal meant that the match went into sudden death and Van Aubel was given the responsibility by Belgium to take the first opportunity and he duly converted it.
It was then Netherlands' turn to score and continue the sudden death but Hertzberger faltered this time as Belgium goalkeeper Vanasch came up with another brilliant save to hand his side the biggest win of their careers. Earlier in the day, Australia thrashed England 8-1 to claim the bronze medal. The title clash, which was witnessed by none other than cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, turned out to be a fierce contest between the two European sides. While the Netherlands took the early initiative and attacked continuously in the first two quarters, Belgium made a strong comeback after the change of ends.
Crazy atmosphere at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar for the Menâ€™s #HWCFinal2018! Loving the energy and the passion for hockey in this stunning stadium! ðŸ‘ðŸ¼â€” Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) December 16, 2018
Kudos to @Naveen_Odisha & @TheHockeyIndia for putting up this world class event! ðŸ˜ƒ#BELvNED @sports_odisha @FIH_Hockey pic.twitter.com/hZOvGzTkJT
Belgium, though, had the first chance but Tom Boon's deflection in the second minute went just wide. Minutes later, Hertzberger's reverse struck the side-netting. It was a midfield slugfest between the two teams as both created chances but lacked the final touch inside the opposition circle.
Two minutes after half time, Belgium skipper Thomas Briels' shot was saved by Dutch goalie Blaak. Belgium pressed hard in the final 10 minutes of the game, putting relentless pressure on the Dutch defence but a breakthrough eluded them.Â
(With PTI inputs)