(Photo: © FIH / Dr. Wolfgang Sternberger)

Argentina are the winners of the Samsung Champions Trophy Women 2008, after defeating Germany 6-2 in a wonderful final here in Mönchengladbach, Germany.

The thrilling encounter was played in front of the biggest crowd of the week, who did their best to encourage the home team in every possible way. WorldHockey Player of the Year 2007 Luciana AYMAR enhanced her reputation as the world’s finest player with a stunning performance, setting up two goals and at times looking like an almost unstoppable force going forward. However, the match was not all about AYMAR, with Alejandra GULLA scoring a three times to help her side triumph over Germany.

Luciana AYMAR was named as the most valuable player at the Samsung Champions Trophy Women 2008, with Germany’s Kristina REYNOLDS given the goal keeper of the tournament award. The most promising player went to China’s ZHAO Yu Diao, who celebrates her 19th birthday today. The top goal scorer award was jointly shared by Australia’s Megan RIVERS and Netherlands Marilyn AGLIOTTI, who both scored five times during the tournament.

Earlier in the day, The Netherlands produced a wonderful display to defeat China 3-0, sealing the Bronze medal. Goals came from Marilyn AGLIOTTI, Wieke DIJKSTRA and Eefke MULDER, sealing a terrific third place finish for a side that were far from full strength.

Australia made light work of defeating Japan in the 5th / 6th place play-off match, winning the contest 3-0. Nikki HUDSON was in excellent form for her side, creating a goal and scoring another. Sarah YOUNG opened the scoring for The Hockeyroos, with Megan RIVERS and HUDSON completing the scoring.

However, it was Argentina’s day, and they will hope that can take the confidence of winning this event into the Beijing Olympic Games. Argentina have sealed their place in the 2009 Samsung Champions Trophy, and will be joined by World Champions Netherlands and host nation Australia. The winning team at the 2008 Olympic Games plus the two highest finishers in Beijing will complete the line-up.

Full reports of the matches can be found below.

MATCH REPORTS

Gold Medal: Argentina 6, Germany 2

Argentina defeated Germany 6-2 to win the Samsung Champions Trophy 2008. 

Germany almost took the lead inside the first two minutes of the match, when Claudia BURKART fired just wide of the right post. However, it was Argentina who struck first, when Luciana AYMAR brilliantly set up Agustina Soledad GARCIA who smashed the ball past the helpless Kristina REYNOLDS.

Germany hit back seconds later when Janine BEERMANN skilfully passed into the goal. Incredibly, Argentina then moved into a 2-1 lead when Alejandra GULLA scored a typical strikers goal, swinging her stick to hit the ball just inside the post. The goal made her Argentina’s all time top goal scorer in Champions Trophy hockey, with 17 strikes to her name.

The match was thrilling, with both sides producing hockey way above the standard that was on show when the two sides met on Saturday. Argentina’s superstar Luciana AYMAR was in breathtaking form, and it was she who created a third goal for her team when she beat three players before forcing Kristina REYNOLDS into a good save, only for Carla REBECCHI to force the ball over the line.

Argentina went 4-1 up just after half time, when GULLA scored her second of the game before Kerstin HOYER pulled a goal back for Germany from a penalty corner, slamming a rebound into the net. Sensing a comeback, the crowd cheered their side forward, but Claudia BURKART silenced the supporters when she slapped a penalty corner into the goal to make the score 5-2.

The goal also seemed to knock the confidence out of Germany, who struggled to find a way back into the game. Argentina completed the scoring in the final minute of the match, when Alejandra GULLA flicked into the goal to complete her hat trick, sealing a memorable tournament victory for Las Leonas.

Bronze Medal: Netherlands 3, China 0

The battle for the bronze medal was won convincingly by The Netherlands, who out-classed China with a 3-0 victory.

Marilyn AGLIOTTI put her name on the score sheet for the Netherlands yet again when she tapped in a cross from close range in the seventh minute. It was her fifth goal of the tournament – she has undoubtedly been one of the star players at the Samsung Champions Trophy Women 2008.

The Netherlands should have been 2-0 up just before half time, when Eva de GOEDE aimed a penalty corner flick towards the top corner, but goalkeeper ZHANG Yi Meng pulled of a miraculous stick save to deny her. However, they did not need to wait long to get the second goal, when Wieke DIJKSTRA smashed a penalty corner into the goal on the stroke of half time.

China almost grabbed an equaliser six minutes into the second half, when MA Yi Bo launched a fierce penalty corner drag flick towards the bottom corner, but goal keeper Lisanne DE ROEVER brilliantly put the ball around the post. With eight minutes remaining, Eefke MULDER – recently named as the Dutch league’s best player - made it 3-0 with a sensational reverse stick shot that rocketed into the top of the goal to effectively seal the victory.

The Netherlands can hold their heads up high thanks to their third place finish, having turned up to the tournament missing various key players. 

5th / 6th: Australia 3, Japan 0

Australia produced a good performance to beat Japan 3-0 in the opening game of the day to secure 5th place in the final standings.

The Hockeyroos had marginally the better of the opening period, creating many clear cut opportunities for themselves, but struggled to find the back of the net. Eventually though, the breakthrough came, when Sarah YOUNG volleyed into the goal after following a good penalty corner save from Ikuko OKAMURA. Japan were dangerous going forwards, but could not find the killer touch in the circle.

The second half was evenly contested, with Japan winning numerous penalty corners, but they could not take their chances. Nicole HUDSON had an opportunity to move Australia into a 2-0 lead when she fired a reverse stick shot towards goal from the top of the circle, but OKAMURA pulled off a terrific block to deny her.

Moments later, HUDSON unleashed another reverse stick shot, which was again saved well by OKAMURA, but Megan RIVERS was on hand to tap in from close range. It was her fifth goal in successive matches. Australia went 3-0 up in the 61st minute when HUDSON herself got on the score-sheet, striking powerfully through the legs of the goalkeeper. It was a comprehensive victory for Australia, something that will come as a welcome boost after an inconsistent tournament.

MATCH FACTS

Argentina v Germany

> Argentina's only previous Champions Trophy title came at Amstelveen 2001, when they beat hosts The Netherlands in the final (3-2).

> Alejandra Gulla's three goals in today's final made her sole top scorer for Argentina in Champions Trophy history with 19 goals and third on the all-time top scorer list.

> The last Champions Trophy hat-trick before today was also scored by Gulla. At Rosario 2004, Gulla netted three times in Argentina's 6-0 win over New Zealand.

> Agustina Soldedad Garcia opened the score for Argentina, by netting her 16th Champions Trophy career goal.

> Carla Rebecchi scored Argentina's third goal, which marked her fourth in Champions Trophy competition and her second at Mönchengladbach 2008.

> Janine Beermann (GER) lifted her career total to five Champions Trophy goals, by netting her second goal at Mönchengladbach 2008.

> Kerstin Hoyer's goal marked the first penalty comer goal for Germany at Mönchengladbach 2008.

> Argentina's Maria de la Paz Hernández won her 100th cap today.

> Noel Barrionuevo (ARG) collected her 50th cap today.

> In August 2008, Argentina and Germany meet again in Pool B of the Beijing Olympic Games

Netherlands v China

> The Netherlands have now won a medal in each of the last 11 Champions Trophy editions, which is a tournament record.

> Fatima Moreira de Melo and Minke Smabers collected a record ninth Champions Trophy medal. They previously shared the record for most medals (8) with Nadine Ernsting-Krienke (GER), Rechelle Hawkes (AUS) and Minke Booij (NED).

> Marilyn Agliotti (NED) joined Megan Rivers (AUS) at the top of the goalscoring list, by netting her fifth goal at Mönchengladbach 2008.

> Wieke Dijkstra gave the Dutch a 2-0 lead by netting her first ever Champions Trophy goal.

> Eefke Mulder, who reached 100 caps today, scored the third goal for the Netherlands.

> Mulder is only the third player in the current Dutch squad to reach 100 caps, joining Fatima Moreiro de Melo and Minke Smabers.

> Zhao Yu Diao (CHN) celebrated her 19th birthday today. She is the youngest player at Mönchengladbach 2008.

Australia v Japan

Australia equalled their lowest Champions Trophy ranking. At Amstelveen 2006, the Hockeyroos also finished fifth, beating New Zealand (2-1) in the Final 5-6.

> Today's victory equals Australia's biggest victory over Japan in major competitions (Champions Trophy, Olympics and World Cup), first set at Quilmes 2007.

> Australia successfully defended their unbeaten status against Japan, which is made up of seven matches in major competitions (five wins and two draws).

> Sarah Young scored her second goal at Mönchengladbach 2008, to give Australia a 1-0 lead.

> Megan Rivers scored her fifth goal at Mönchengladbach 2008, which takes her to the top of the goal scoring table.

> Rivers equalled the record of scoring in five consecutive Champions Trophy matches, which was first set by Jackie Pereira at Frankfurt am Main 1989.

> Nicole Hudson lifted her career total to 12 Champions Trophy goals, which makes her the fourth most prolific goalscorer for the Hockeyroos in the history of the competition.

> Australia's Champions Trophy top scorer is Jackie Pereira, who netted 21 goals between 1987 an 1995.