In their last pool match, Spain defeated Germany today to become the first certain finalists in this tournament, thereby confining Germany to the match for 5th place. Australia then slipped past the Netherlands to join the Spanish.
Spain defeat Germany 3:0 (1:0)
Spain and Germany entered the field today knowing that Spain had to win to make it to the final, while Germany needed a win to keep their hopes for the bronze medal match alive.
The whistle had barely sounded however, when Spain put their stamp on the game. From the push back, Spain went directly on a run, and caught their opponents on a very wrong foot. 12 seconds were on the clock, when the ball rolled down the net behind Uli Bubolz in the German goal, with Pol Amat the Spaniard to have inflicted the damage.
In the rest of the first half, play was even, both teams had their chances, with Germany maybe the slightly more active and persistent side but Quico Cortes in the Spanish goal pulled a few nice saves to deny them, and the Spanish defense stood firm enough to keep the scoreline at 1-0 until halftime.
After the break, a quick double hit from Spain pretty much settled things. David Alegre scored first, taking advantage of a Kiko Fabregas ball that had slipped through under Uli Bubolz, and three minutes later, Santi Freixa put a third goal onto the scoreboard, converting a penalty corner with a dragflick.
For the remainder of the game, Spain played without much urgency, giving playing time to some less experienced players and trying variations in the lineup rather than pushing for more goals. Germany were still unable to challenge the Spanish, and the game ended 3-0.
This scoreline put Spain into tomorrow's final while their opponent was yet to be confirmed in the following match between the Netherlands and Australia: a win by Australia was going to put them into the final with Spain, while any other result would see Spain take on Argentina tomorrow.
Australia defeat Netherlands 3:2 (1:1)
In the subsequent game, Australia had the opportunity to push into the final with a win, just like Spain, and thereby push Argentina down into the bronze medal match.
It was the Netherlands however who had the better start, putting away their first after five minutes when Geert-Jan Derikx pushed the rebound off a Roderick Weusthof penalty corner flick over the line. The two teams were off to a first half of open battle, with Australia looking slightly more dangerous.
And with the final whistle of the first half, the Kookaburras managed to capitalize on their advantage and pulled even as Grant Schubert sank a penalty corner. The goal was revised by the video umpire but stood, and so the two sides went into halftime at one each.
In the early phase of the second half, Australia stepped up the pressure. The Dutch seemed to lose their concentration and suddenly struggled with an unusually high number of individual errors breaking down their play. Australia had scores of chances but failed until Jamie Dwyer finally converted Australia's superiority in this phase into a tangible asset, batting a high cross into the net.
The home team forced their way into the game once more when Jeroen Hertzberger deflected a long ball across from the far left into the goal for the 2-2 equalizer, but it was not enough eventually: the Kookaburras added another through Travis Brooks who finished off a spectacular Eddie Ockenden run and pass by slapping the ball into the goal - much to the dismay of the Argentinean team sitting in the stands and passionately supporting the home team who soon realized this spelt no final for them and left looking crestfallen.
In the remaining few minutes, the hosts tried hard to still salvage a point from the encounter but to no avail. Australia walk away with a ticket to the final, where they will meet Spain, while the Netherlands join Argentina in the bronze medal match. Germany will take on Korea in the match for 5th place.
For more information on the tournament, including action photos, live commentary from ongoing matches and previews for upcoming matches, please visit the dedicated tournament site.