Korea win in vain; Netherlands, Germany through to semis (Lead)

March 9th, 2010 - 11:48 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sirshendu Panth
New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) Asian champions Korea fought valiantly to beat the Netherlands 2-1 but still missed the semi-final berth as the European powerhouse scraped through on goal difference at the Hockey World Cup here Tuesday.

The Netherlands finished second in Pool A with ten points and a goal difference of +10, after Germany topped on 11 points after a fluent 5-2 win over New Zealand at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

Germany will now take on Pool B runners England while the Netherlands clash with Pool B toppers Australia in the semi-finals Thursday after a day’s rest Wednesday.

Asian Games gold medallists Korea, who took the fourth place in the previous two World Cups, finished the Pool engagements with the same number of points as the Netherlands, but their goal difference of +8 proved to be their undoing. Korea would now take on Spain for a fifth-sixth place play-off.

The keenly contested game saw the speedy Koreans recover after conceding a first minute goal as they rattled the strong Dutch defence with snappy moves and a do-or-die approach. But in the end they fell short by a goal of making the cut.

After Germany’s victory in the day’s first match, Korea needed to win by at least a two-goal margin to make the grade.

Ronald Brouwer put the Dutch ahead seconds into the game, before the Koreans drew parity through a Hyun woo Nam (31st min) penalty-corner strike. In the second session, Korea pressed hard as Jong Ho Seo (45th) got the winner.

The Netherlands had the early control before the Koreans built up pressure with short and neat passes and quick running to the delight of the sparse crowd at the stadium.

The match had a sensational start as Dutch Captain Teun de Nooijer darted down the right, and backpassed from close to the goalline for Ronald Brouwer to strike home.

Undeterred by the setback, the fleet-footed Koreans regrouped and carried out several raids, but the moves ended unproductive as the solid Netherlands defence did not give any room to manoeuvre.

A great run by Young Jin Kim was blocked by the Netherlands’s redoubtable goalkeeper Guus Vogels, and later the action shifted to the other end with Nooijer failing to finish after a one-two with Valentin Verga.

Korean attacks eventually met with success when they got their first penalty corner at the stroke of halftime and Nam scored with a drag flick, his fourth goal of the tournament.

Soon after the breather, Sung Hoon Yoon had only Vogels to beat, but the Netherlands goalkeeper saved the effort with Wouter Jolie picking up the rebound from the goalline.

Korea went ahead from another breakaway, that saw Sung Hoon Yoon pass the ball past Vogels at the top of the circle to Seo who only had to push the ball in the vacant goal.

Both sides missed chances and four minutes from close the Netherlands were awarded a penalty stroke, but the decision was upturned following a referral.

Even as the Koreans carried out desperate raids, the game ended with an unproductive Taeke Taekema penalty corner.

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