Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Germany rode on a splendid hat-trick by their star player Gonzalo Peillat to waltz into the final of the FIH Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup after edging out Australia 4-3 in the nail-biting first semifinal match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

While, Gonzalo Peillat (42nd, 51st and 58th minutes) scored three goals , Wellen Niklas struck another in the 59th minute for Germany. In-form Jeremy Hayward (11th minute), Ephraums Nathan (26th minute) and Blake Govers (57th minute) scored a goal each for Australia.

The Australians, who have been in great form throughout the tournament dominated the first quarter. They started with an aggressive instinct and hardly gave any space for the Germans. They earned their first penalty corner in the very first minute of the match. However, the opportunity was spoiled by the agile defenders of Germany. They earned their second penalty corner in the 11th minute. Jeremy Hayward duly converted it to open the team's account.

In the second quarter, Germans clawed their way back into the game to a little extent. They earned their first PC in the 19th minute, but could not capitalise. Australia retaliated as Ephraums Nathan scored a brilliant goal with a fierce hit from the right flank of the goal post in the 26th minute to give Australians 0 -2 lead. Germany tried their best to make a comeback into the game by pressing hard and earning a PC in the 28th minute. But they could not grab the opportunity. In the next minute Australia got their third PC, but it was thwarted by the opposition defenders. The first half ended 0-2 in Australia's favour.

However, the second half was dominated by Germany. Australia started well by creating a PC in the 35th minute, but failed to capitalise. Then Germans were all over the ground with an attacking surge. They earned as many as five PCs in the 42nd minute and the last one was converted by Gonzalo Peillat to reduce the margin to 1-2. They also created three more PC opportunities in the next two minutes, but failed to grab the chances.

In the fourth and final quarter, Germans started attacking again from where they had left. They earned two back- to-back PCs in the 51st minute. Gonzalo Peillat found the equaliser by converting the last one.

Despite an all-out attack by the Germans, Australia found their chances. They created back-to-back penalty corner chances in the 57th minute. Blake Govers duly converted the last one to increase the lead to 3-2 in Australia's favour.

Germany were not left behind and they created two more PC chances in the next minute. Gonzalo Peillat took advantage of it to complete his hat-trick and level the score to 3-3.

Germany were soon rewarded because of their relentless attack. Niklas Wellen scored one of the best goals of the tournament in the 59th minute to seal the fate of the keenly-contested match 4-3 in Germany's favour.