Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Defending champions Belgium made it to the final of the FIH Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup 2023 after edging out Netherlands 3-2 via penalty shoot-out in the keenly-contested second semifinal match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

The match ended 2-2 in regulation time. In the ensuing penalty shoot-out Belgium scraped past Netherlands 3-2

The Red Lions will meet Germany in the all-important final on Sunday.

There was not much to differentiate between both teams. While the first quarter belonged to the Netherlands, the Red Lions dominated in the second quarter.

Netherlands earned three penalty corners in seventh, 10th, and 11th minutes. Jip Janssen converted the last one to give the Oranjes 0-1 lead in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Belgium made a strong comeback. They put tremendous pressure on the opposition and created a penalty corner (PC) chance in the 26th minute. Star player Tom Boon capitalized on the chance and duly converted it to find the equaliser for the Red Lions. The evenly-contested first half ended in 1-1 deadlock.

Netherlands tried their best to stamp authority in the third quarter. They approached the second half with an aggressive instinct and earned three back-to-back PCs in the 35th minute. Jip Janssen converted the last one in the 35th minute to increase the lead for the Oranges to 1-2.

However, the defending champions were not left behind. They turned the heat on the opposition and Nicolas De Kerpel scored a scintillating goal in the 44th minute to make it 2-2 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was a keenly contested affair with both teams pressing hard to break the deadlock. Netherlands got back-to-back PCs in the 46th minute but failed to grab the chances. Belgium also missed a golden scoring opportunity in the 50th minute as they missed a penalty stroke.

The match ended 2-2 in regulation time. It went down the wire and finally, Belgium got the better of Netherlands in the penalty shoot-out and emerged winner.