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Netherlands & Australia reach semi-finals in Tucuman
A solitary goal from Dutch star Lidewij Welten and a brilliant shoot-out display from Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch earned semi final berths for the Netherlands and Australia on a baking hot quarter-final day here at the Argentina hockey World League Final in San Miguel de Tucuman.
Welten netted a second half strike to give the Netherlands a hard fought 1-0 triumph over New Zealand, while Germany produced a wonderful performance to take high-flying Australia all the way to a shoot-out that will be remembered courtesy of two wonderful saves from Lynch.
Both teams will have to wait until this evening before finding out their opponents in Saturday's semi-finals, with the Netherlands playing the winner of the Argentina v Korea match, with England or China being the possible opponents for Australia.
More information on the matches can be found below.
Netherlands hold off Black Sticks challenge to reach Semi Finals
Reigning Olympic champions the Netherlands have become the first team to book their place in the semi-finals of the Argentina Hockey World League Final thanks to a hard earned 1-0 win over New Zealand on a baking hot morning here in Tucuman.
A second half goal from Lidewij Welten proved to be enough for Oranje to edge past a Black Sticks team that gave their opponents a seriously hard time in a brutal, energy-sapping contest.
The Netherlands's opponents in Saturday’s semi-final will be the winner of the evening match between host nation Argentina or Korea. An Argentina win this evening would set up a re-match of the London 2012 Olympic final, where the Netherlands claimed the Gold medal with a 2-0 victory over Las Leonas.
Searing temperatures in Tucuman brought the FIH warm weather protocol into play, with the competing teams having a short break in the middle of each match in order to get some much needed fluid on board.
Netherlands had the better of the chances in the first half, but could find no way past Black Sticks shot-stopper Sally Rutherford, who produced a fine penalty corner save from Maartje Paumen in the most significant effort of the opening period.
Netherlands shot-stopper Joyce Sombroek was called into action early in the second half with a double save before the opening goal arrived in the 41st minute. In form attacker Lidewij Welten found the target with a fine turn and shot from close range following excellent build up play from pacey forward Rosalin Drost.
Minutes later, Maria Verschoor almost doubled the Dutch advantage when she rattled the crossbar a brilliant reverse stick effort, while Maartje Paumen also went close with a fierce strike from the right of the circle.
Although the Netherlands were creating the better goal-scoring opportunities, New Zealand gave as good as they got in the second half and threw everything at their illustrious opponents in the final stages of the game. However, the Dutch defence held firm to keep alive their dream of becoming the inaugural winners of the Hockey World League.
For Netherlands player Caia van Maasakker, the win was a fine way to mark her 50th international match.
Lynch brilliance gives Australia shoot-out win over Germany
A heroic goalkeeping performance from Rachael Lynch helped Australia seal a shoot-out victory over Germany and claim a place in the semi-finals of the Argentina Hockey World League in San Miguel de Tucuman. With full time finishing with the scores locked together at 1-1, Lynch made crucial saves from Julia Müller and Lea Stöckel to help the Hockeyroos advance into the final four.
Pool B winners Australia came into the contest as clear favourites thanks to their hugely impressive performances earlier in the week. However, despite a fourth place finish in Pool A, Germany produced a performance more akin to the displays that saw them become European champions in the summer. Despite that, the Germans could not repeat the shoot-out form that defeated England in the final of the TriFinance EuroHockey Nations tournament.
Like the first match of the day, the FIH warm weather protocol was brought into action due to searing temperatures here in Tucuman. This allowed the teams to take much needed water-breaks midway through each half.
Despite the intense heat, both teams battled hard to assert their dominance in the match, with Germany making the first dent on the scoreboard in the 11th minute. Eileen Hoffmann was the scorer, bravely touching home from close range following a slick Germany attacking move.
Australia were denied an equaliser in the last moments of the first half thanks to some outstanding goalkeeping from Barbara Vogel, who made three blocks in quick succession from a penalty corner situation.
A snap-shot Eileen Hoffmann almost doubled Germany’s advantage in the early stages of the second half, but Lynch kicked out a right boot to make a crucial save.
Australia grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 48th minute when Ashley Nelson crashed home a brilliant volley after a superb defence-splitting deflection from Emily Smith.
The remainder of the match was almost entirely dominated by the Hockeyroos, who mounted wave after wave of attacks on the Germany goal in search of a winner that never came.
However, the Australians were not to be denied, with Lynch making two superb blocks in the shoot-out to seal her team’s safe passage through to the semi-finals.