The two best teams in Men’s World Hockey went head to head here at the Riverbank Arena in London. Although both sides were obviously keen not to show their hand before the Olympic tournament, there was still plenty of quality on display for those who had braved the conditions to come and watch this match.
Nathan Burgers was called into action in the Kookaburras goal early on, making a good save from a Christopher Zeller penalty corner. Germany were exerting most of the attacking pressure so it was a little surprising when Australia took the lead in the 12th minute through Russell Ford. It was a fine piece of work from Ford, latching onto a ball deflected into the air to send a reverse-stick volley past a startled Max Weinhold into the net.
Just seven minutes later, Moritz Furste levelled things up with a low shot into the bottom corner. Australia used a video referral, as they felt an infringement had occurred in the build up. The goal stood, however and the game was level again.
Before half time, Germany got their noses in front with a smart finish at the back post from Florian Fuchs. Burgers was slightly hindered by the presence of a defender on the line, and as the goalkeeper came rushing across to narrow the angle, Fuchs slotted the ball back where he had come from, giving him no chance, ensuring Germany went into the break ahead.
The second half of the game didn’t really catch fire. It was a war of attrition as both sides’ excellent defences cancelled out the threat of the opposition forwards. Captain Maximilian Mueller was particularly outstanding as his side showed they were not prepared to give up their lead.
Australia did manage two penalty corners in the second half, but both Eddie Ockenden’s efforts were well saved by the imposing Weinhold in the Germany goal.
With time running out, Australia took off their goalkeeper, opting to try and grab an equaliser with 11 outfield players on the pitch. As is often the way, the gamble backfired, as they almost immediately conceded a penalty corner. Christopher Zeller duly despatched the chance past the kicking back and Germany had a 3-1 lead.
Australia managed to hit straight back. Pressing high up the pitch, they turned the ball over in the German 25. With a 2 vs 1 situation the ball was slipped to Eddie Ockenden. Despite some good work from Weinhold to keep out the initial two efforts, Ockenden was on hand to convert the rebound.
That was the last action of the game, as Germany maintained their 100% record and secured a place in Sunday’s final. Australia will need to see off hosts Great Britain to get there themselves.