|July 30th, 2012|
|4||Pool B||4:00pm||NED - IND||3 - 2 (2 - 0)||Final|
Paul van Ass received an early piece of vindication for his decision to drop Taeke Taekema as his penalty corner team recorded a 100% strike rate that ultimately saw them home in their opening game against India. Mink van der Weerden’s rocket past the otherwise immaculate Bharat Kumar Chetri’s glove in the 51st minute stole the laurels, a direct drag-flick to match Roderick Weusthof’s earlier goal.
It killed off what was a feisty comeback from the Asian side, recovering from two goals down at half time to level with two close range goals in quick succession. Dharamvir Singh and Shivendra Singh, though, nipped in for 2-2 but Van Der Weerden’s beautiful effort proved the game’s defining moment.
It was a tie made for entertainment as the two methods of attack – India’s direct, hard-running approach contrasted by the finesse of the Dutch’s methodical style – dove-tailing beautifully. Chances came thick and fast as VR Raghunath miscued a corner rebound before, at the opposite end, denying Billy Bakker with a full-length diving tackle. Teun de Nooijer – playing in his fifth Olympics – almost volleyed in an opening goal, a rasping drive brilliantly denied by Chetri’s knee.
During this phase, waves of Dutch attacks set in motion by Roderick Weusthof and Bod de Voogd were wreaking havoc and they eventually went ahead when Rob van der Horst came up from the back and cracked home off his open side in the 22nd minute. Weusthof doubled the lead though despite the best efforts of Manpreet Singh on the line from the Dutch team’s first corner. Rogier Hofman might have killed the game off early in the second half but his sweep-shot was amazingly tipped away by Chetri’s stick.
Four manic minutes, though, saw India back on terms as Jaap Stockmann stepped over what he thought was a harmless cross only for it to hit the inside of the post and Dharamvir Singh duly snapped up the loose ball. With Tushar Khandker and Gurwinder Singh Chandi to the fore, the leveller came soon after; Shivendra Singh nudging home the latter’s smart skills.
Van der Weerden’s riposted was quick in coming and, despite a glut of late drama, the Dutch held firm though they will be concerned by Rob Van Der Horst’s early departure with a leg injury. The match was Ignace Tirkey’s 250th international game while, for the Netherlands, Valentin Verga gained his 50th cap.
Teun DE NOOIJER (NED), on competing at his fifth Olympics: "It feels great, it's wonderful to be playing hockey here and we took three points from this game. Still, we know that we can do better, and we will have to do better."
On the team's performance: "We had a few chances that we gave away. We could have scored the 3-0 early on and got a more solid lead. And then we got the slightly unlucky goal awarded against us. We know that India have the speed and the skill to score like that, and they made great use of the chances they got."
Sardar SINGH (IND), on the team's performance: "Our forward line was poor and we must improve on our finishing. We made a good comeback in the second half, coming back from 2-0 down. We took our chances and we felt more in control of the match."