Bhubaneswar, January 25
Germany struck twice with two minutes left in the match to wipe out a two-goal deficit and then prevailed over England in the penalty shootout to make a dramatic entry into the semifinals of the FIH Men’s World Cup here on Wednesday.
Captain Mats Grambusch and his younger brother Tom scored in the space of one minute after England were ahead 2-0 till the 58th minute as Germany snatched a win from the jaws of defeat in an edge-of-the-seat quarterfinal match.
Germany, who finished second in Pool B and defeated France 5-1 in the crossover match, will face title contenders Australia in the semifinals on Friday.
The vociferous spectators at the Kalinga Stadium thought that England would wrap up the match comfortably after Zachary Wallace (12th) and Liam Ansell (33rd) gave them the 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.
Trailing 1-2, Germany got a penalty stroke with one minute to go in the match. Mats then asked his younger brother Tom to take it and he 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 scored, 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 is 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 off a fine combination among Jack Waller, Stuart Rushemere and Zachary Wallace.
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 later 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 the match’s first penalty corner which they wasted.
The Englishman did not give space to the Germans whenever they entered the striking circle. But 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 half time.
Trailing 0-1 at half time, Germany let themselves down as Timur Oruz received a green card in the 31st minute for two-minute suspension and England pounced 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 the yellow card in the 38th minute for 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 team-mates 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 at 2-2 in a dramatic fashion as just a few seconds later, Mats’ brother Tom scored from the penalty stroke.
With 38 seconds left in the regulation time, Germany earned a penalty corner but England defended it under tense circumstances.
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