Hockey: Belgium defeat Netherlands, faces Argentina in final
Belgium set up an intriguing men's Olympic hockey final against Argentina after they dumped out the world's second-ranked team the Netherlands with a resounding 3-1 semi-final victory on Tuesday.
Goals from Jerome Truyens, Florent van Aubel and John-John Dohmen guaranteed Belgium a place in their first ever Olympic final.
"It's an historical night. It was a great game, amazing against Holland. I think we've never beaten them in an official tournament," Dohmen told reporters.
"Now we are doing the perfect tournament, the tournament for life and it's at the right moment, at the Olympics."
Following a dull first quarter, Truyens opened the scoring from a penalty corner attempt and Dohmen doubled the advantage three minutes later after getting into the circle and knocking in a pass.
Just 23 seconds after Dohmen scored, however, the Netherlands cut the lead as talisman Mink van der Weerden scored his ninth penalty corner goal of the Olympics to keep his side in the game heading into halftime.
"They played really well and I think we just sort of gave it away in the first half," Van der Weerden said.
"We played really badly in the first half. No proper passing, no proper rhythm, nothing. We just gave it away in the first half, it was very silly. We never really were in the race. That's how it felt for me."
Belgium were on the back foot for most of the third quarter as they attempted to stifle the impressive Dutch attack, led by Van der Weerden.
Early in the fourth period, Belgium regained their two-goal advantage courtesy of a brilliant counter-attack, which ended up with Van Aubel scoring.
The Netherlands piled on the pressure with a wave of attacks, which required goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch to produce several big saves, but Belgium hung on for a spot in the final on Thursday.
Peillat's hat-trick powers Argentina past champions Germany
A hat-trick from Gonzalo Peillat powered Argentina into the men's Olympic hockey final after a stunning 5-2 upset against defending champions Germany in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.
The South Americans will meet Belgium, who later surprised the Netherlands 3-1 in the other semi-final, in Thursday's final.
Peillat, who opened the scoring with a drag-flick from a penalty-corner midway through the first quarter, grabbed a second before the quarter ended and completed his hat-trick before half-time to open up a 3-0 lead over the Germans.
All three of Peillat's goals came from penalty-corners, and the 24-year-old praised his side's tactics and preparation before the game.
"We watched a lot of videos (of the Germans) before this game. We had three corners in the first part of the game and then we scored three from three so it was good," he said.
"It's really exciting. Now we can do it (win a gold medal). We are in the final."
Joaquin Menini and Lucas Vila added a goal each for Argentina in the third and fourth quarters before Germany's captain Moritz Furste pulled a goal back for his team 10 minutes from the end.
The Germans stepped up their intensity as they chased the game, and were rewarded in the 58th minute when Christopher Ruhr beat Argentina's goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi to cut the deficit to three goals.
The flurry, however, came too late, and the defeat consigned the Germans to a bronze medal play-off, while keeping Argentina in the hunt for their first-ever Olympic hockey gold medal.
Furste said Germany had only themselves to blame for losing control so early in the match.
"We didn't play our best hockey today, that's for sure. They defended well, they scored three corners, that just can't happen. After that it was very difficult for us to come back into the game," he added.
"Once you're two or three goals down against them it's always difficult. But we believed in ourselves. We tried everything until the end, it just wasn't enough."