London 2012 Men’s Pool B: Germany 2-1 Belgium.

Christopher Zeller’s deft deflection in the 45th minute was enough to give Germany a hard-fought win over a spirited Belgium in the final game of the day at the Riverbank Arena.

Belgium stunned their illustrious opponents as Jerome Dekeyser’s superb low penalty corner in the 3rd minute gave Max Weinhold no chance in the German goal.

Cedric Charlier almost doubled their lead; however his effort was scrambled away by a combination of Weinhold and Timo Wess. The Red Lions had clearly rattled the Germans, who seemed to be finding it hard to keep possession under the energetic and well-organised press of the Belgians.

Germany did manage to notch an equaliser. After some fine approach work along the baseline from Jan Phillipp Rabente, Florian Fuchs forced home from close range. Thilo Stralkowski and Oscar Deecke both also went close as Germany tried to finish off their opponents before half time, however, neither was able to find the target and the sides went in at the break level.

Shortly after half time, Rabente wasted a gilt-edged opportunity after some superb play by Stralkowski to set him up. However, not long after, in the 45th minute of the game, Christopher Zeller, who had been very quiet thus far, made his decisive contribution to the match. He got a slight touch onto a pass into the D to divert the ball past Vincent Vanash. The umpires were unsure of the touch, so the video replay was called for, heightening the drama of the moment even further, however the goal stood.

Belgium would not lie down, however and Charlier, still hunting for a goal, went close with a reverse stick shot, just past the far post as well as a deflection, which also went just wide.

Germany were unlucky not to make the game safe as Xavier Reckinger cleared off the line from a Timo Wess penalty corner, however the drama was by no means done.

Tom Boon had a chance to level things up from a penalty corner of his own. Despite the wild celebrations of one section of the crowd, Boon had pulled the chance wide of the target by a whisker and the chance came to nothing.

With Belgium throwing everything at Germany the crowd were treated to a full blooded battle right up to the final whistle. Germany held firm, thanks in part to the wonderful defensive work of captain, Max Mueller.

Belgium will no doubt have made the rest of the teams take notice with this display. However, Germany showed, as they have countless times before, what a good tournament team they are, doing just enough to take the points.

A great game for the neutral and a hard earned win for the reigning champions.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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