(Photo: Fieldhockey.fr , Stanislas Brochier)

Match #44 (Final) - France vs. Germany: 2-5 (half-time: 1-1)

France is the good story of this 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup. They arrived discreetly in the competition but managed to win over the American Champions (Argentina), European Champions (Belgium) and Asian Champions (Malaysia) to progress to their first ever final in a top international event. They had however their work cut out against Germany, defending Junior World Cup champions and five time winners of the junior flagship event.

France were supported by a large colony of singing fans, but Germany killed the suspense early when Niklas Wellen stole the ball in the French circle and slotted it past a surprised Edgar Reynaud in the second minute of play.

The French promptly settled their nerves and organized their game. They were working hard, keeping the Germans at bay and not hesitating to rush forward when they saw an opening. In the 16th minute, a quick exchange of passes found Gaspard Baumgarten alone at the top of the circle and he did not think twice to blast a shot past Victor Aly in the German goal, much to the vocal pleasure of the bleu-blanc-rouge crowd.

France suddenly became bolder, pushing temporarily the German defense on the back foot. A cross from Hugo Genestet eluded two German defenders but a rushing attacker could not put his stick on it for the deflection.

Germany forced their first penalty-corner of the match during a French yellow card but could not capitalize. They progressively regained the upper hand and France were under pressure at the end of the period, but half-time was reached with the two teams back to back with one goal each.

Germany came back with more purpose in their stride and play but, incredibly, France scored and took the lead on their first penalty-corner of the match in the 40th minute by Gaspard Baumgarten, his second goal of the game. This did not stand well with the Germans who forced a penalty-corner of their own in the next breath, but were denied by Edgar Reynaud, again in fine form in the French goal.

Germany came back on par in the 44th minute by Niklas Wellen, also his second of the match. He completed his hat-trick two minutes later to put Germany back on top. France however refused to capitulate and fought on every ball, holding the fort firmly  until the 60 minute when Jonas Gomoll made the best of a confusing situation in the French circle to blast the ball past Reynaud.

Two goals down and a handful of minutes to go, France replaced their goal-keeper so that Corentin Saunier could have the experience of a World Cup final and the Germans scored another goal by top-scorer of the competition Christopher Rühr. Germany were were soon hoisting the Junior World Cup, for the sixth time in the history of the event, after an exciting Final that was much closer that everybody was anticipating. France were certainly happy with their performance in this competition, enjoying their silver medals with their fans.

For more information and pictures of FRA vs. GER, click here.

Individual Awards
Player of the Tournament: Christopher Rühr (Germany)
Goal-keeper of the Tournament: Edgar Reynaud (France)
Top Scorer: Christopher Rühr (Germany), 9 goals
Goal of the Tournament: Jean-Laurent Kieffer (France), Argentina vs. France, 3rd French goal (48th minute)

(3rd-4th) - Malaysia vs. Netherlands: 2-7 (half-time: 1-5)

Asian Champions Malaysia breezed through pool play and quarter-final unbeaten but could not handle the French team in semi-final, losing in an agonizing shootout. The Netherlands were equally dominant until the semi-finals, when they lost to Germany after challenging them until the end with a spectacular three-goal scoring spree.   

In this bronze medal game, the Netherlands drew first blood in the 3rd minute when their captain Roel Bovendeert progressed along the back line, attempted a high shot and batted in goal the rebound from the goal-keeper. The Dutch did not waste any time and added a second goal three minutes later by Thierry Brinkman.  Malaysia responded with a penalty-corner and, with three goals in four minutes, the match was launched on a high note!

The Netherlands had another defensive scare but progressively took control of midfield, making the Malaysians run after their long and patient passes. They had a penalty-corner in the 18th minute, which was not scored directly but Tom Hiebendaal managed to find the ball in the mad goalmouth scramble that ensued and push it in goal. Malaysia were dangerous on a couple of penalty-corners but Jan De Wijkerslooth stood tall in the Orange goal to thwart the attempts.

The Netherlands increased their lead in the 23rd minute by Milan Van Baal with a sweet deflection behind his back, his sixth goal of the competition. Thierry Brinkman soon scored his second of the match and, down 1-5 going into the break, the road ahead seemed rather steep for the young Malaysian team.

The Dutch had the match well in hands at the start of second period and Tom Hiebendaal scored his second goal of the match, carbon copy of Van Baal’s deflection behind the back. Malaysia looked somewhat dispirited, unable to entangle themselves from the Dutch press. They did not help their cause when Zulhairi Hashim picked up a yellow card for a reckless diving tackle that took Roel Bovendeert out of the game for a while. The Netherlands took advantage of the numerical advantage to score their seventh goal by Jelle Galema, with still 18 minutes to go in the game.

Malaysia pulled back one goal on penalty-corner, but the Netherlands cruised to a clean victory for the bronze medal, leaving the Malaysians in the worst spot at the foot of the podium.

For more information and pictures of MAS vs. NED, click here.