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Germany claim thrilling win over defending champions Argentina as semi-final spots are secured

LAUSANNE: Germany will play India and France will take on Spain in the semi-finals of the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup after a day of action-packed quarter-final matches in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The first encounter of the day pitted the defending champions, Argentina, against the team they beat in the 2021 final to claim that title, Germany, with the Germans pulling off a thrilling 2-1 victory this time around.

Former champions India came from behind on two occasions to earn their semi-final spot with a hard-fought 4-3 win over the Netherlands, while 2021 bronze medallists France defeated Australia 3-2 and Spain beat Pakistan 4-2.

Defending champions Argentina went down 1-2 in a thriller against Germany. The Germans had better possession in a goalless first half but it was their keeper, Joshua Nnaji Onyekwue, who had to make an excellent diving save from a blistering Inaki Minadeo drag flick.

The Germans were eventually rewarded for their dominance in the third quarter, Hugo von Montgelas turning his marker inside out at the top of the circle and firing home. Soon after, Paul Glander shaped up for a drag flick and slipped it left for Jakob Brilla to rocket home for a two-goal lead. But Argentina refused to lie down and Nnaji Onyekwue was again called on to deny them as the quarter ended.

Argentina came alive early in the final quarter, Agustin Bonanno scoring early to set up a nail-biting finish. Argentina created numerous opportunities with a flurry of shots, five penalty corners, and a penalty stroke. They even subbed their keeper off with six minutes to play, but the German defence held firm around Onyekwue.

Player of the match Matteo Poljaric said: “It was a crazy emotional game. I think we had a really, really good first half and we kept on fighting. They had many PCs, we had incredible defence on the PCs today and I think we are just happy to win this really tough fight against Argentina.”

 

 

 

Netherlands vs India (Full-Time Score: 3-4)

 

 

 

India came from behind twice in their gutsy 4-3 victory over a dominant Netherlands team. The Dutch had the perfect start, Timo Boers’ fifth-minute drag flick deflecting in high off the first wave’s foot, and Pepijn van der Heijden adding a second with a blistering low drag. That meant India went into the break trailing 0-2.

 

The Indians fought back early in the second half, Araijeet Singh Hundal’s brilliant skills along the baseline setting up Aditya Arjun Lalage for a tap-in. Hundal drew India level a minute later with a penalty stroke, only for Olivier Hortensius to regain the lead for the Dutch with an excellent penalty corner deflection late in the third quarter. India weren’t done yet though, and Sourabh Anand Kushwaha drew them level once more with eight minutes left in the match. Captain Uttam Singh finally put India in front with four minutes remaining, completing a perfect penalty corner deflection from the p-spot. The Dutch immediately substituted their keeper and applied immense pressure, winning seven penalty corners in the last 90 seconds. But India defended these bravely with the keeper only being called on to save one as his runners charged the rest down, leaving the Dutch to rue many missed opportunities.

 

Player of the match Rohit said: “We always stuck to the plan. We were doing mistakes but after the break we boosted up ourselves, the coaches boosted us, and we came with a good comeback.”

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