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Germany retain Olympic hockey title

London: Germany`s stoic defence withstood a series of raids by the Netherlands as the defending champions retained their men`s hockey Olympic gold by carving out a 2-1 victory in the finals here.

Jan Phillip Rabente left a stamp of his brilliance to score twice to give Germany the crucial edge in the match.

Compact defence on both sides kept the initial play confined to the midfield before the Netherlands mounted a series of attacks and German goalkeeper Max Weinhold had to come out to block a couple of shots in the goalmouth.

Rabente tilted the scales in Germany`s favour when he opened the scoring two minutes before half time by dribbling past two defenders in the circle and then beating the Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann with a flick that ended in the right side of the net at the Riverbank Arena here yesterday.

Germany`s key player Christopher Zeller was at a loss of words after winning his second Olympic gold medal – both times with his brother Phillip Zeller.

"It was a big night I am so happy right now I just don`t know what to say. We did it and it feels unbelievable," Christopher Zeller said.

"There`s going to be a big party. The last three weeks were pretty hard, the tournament was pretty long," he added, complimenting the Netherlands for playing an intense game.

"Netherlands were great opponents, they played a great tournament," he said.

Netherlands had to keep out some more German raids early in the second half before young shooter Mink van der Weerden converted their third penalty corner by sending the drag flick into the net in the 54th minute.

Germany enjoyed territorial domination for an extended period as they broke into the circle on three occasions, but were unable to breach the Dutch defence who fell back to crowd the scoring zone.

Rabente scored the gold medal winning goal in four minutes from the hooter when he lunged forward to deflect a long diagonal ball from Tobias Hauke into the boards.

Stunned by the goal, the Dutch pushed hard for an equaliser for the last three minutes, but all 11 Germany players fell back into their 25-year zone to deny the Netherlands strikers.

This is Germany`s fourth Olympic gold medal starting with 1972. It makes them the second most successful nation in Olympic men`s hockey history behind India`s eight gold medals.

Before the final, Germany were level on three golds with Pakistan. The Netherlands have won the Olympic men`s title twice – in successive Games of 1996 and 2000.

After India`s six successive gold medals and two for Netherlands, this is only the third instance of a country retaining the Olympic men`s hockey title.

Netherlands were on the verge of a unique double after their women`s team won the gold medal yesterday. Had the Dutch won, they would have become the first ever country to win both the men and women`s hockey gold medals in Olympic history.

Netherlands had beaten Germany 3-1 in their pool match encounter, which was the only match the defending champions lost in this tournament.

Germany knocked out World champions Australia in the semifinal, while the Netherlands had hammered hosts Great Britain to storm into the title round.

World`s No. 1 ranked Australia claimed the bronze medal with a 3-1 win over Great Britain.

Christopher Zeller said two goals from Jan Phillip Rabante were absolutely wonderful. "The first goal was phenomenal. It was unbelievable and came off a solo run by Rabante," he said.

"The second one came just at the right time so we just had to defend for less than five minutes. It was good because the pressure from the Dutch was immense," added Christopher.

His brother, Philipp said, "Winning the gold was amazing. I am so overwhelmed with all the impressions I have right now."

Their teammate Benjamin Wess said, "This is a perfect end to a great competition. This was a battle between two really good teams."

Floris Evers, a key cog in the Dutch side, said the result had left a strange feeling. "This feels a little strange, I don`t know how we feel. I am so proud of the team and will celebrate the medal, but I do feel very strange," Evers said.

"We didn`t play our game and Germany played a great game," he added.

Veteran Dutch player Teun de Nooijer, playing in his fifth Olympic Games, felt the team should be proud of what it had achieved. "I think we can be very, very proud with the way we have played in this tournament, and maybe with the result a great silver medal," de Nooijer said.

Playing in his fifth successive Olympics since 1996, De Nooijer said his Olympic journey ends here, after adding a fourth medal to his collection of two previous gold medals (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000) and one silver (Athens 2004). "I think Holland is back where it belongs, in an Olympic final and at the top of world hockey," said de Nooijer.

"We have a very young squad, and they will be good in the near future," said the Dutch veteran, adding that he will be at the next Olympics in 2016 as a fan of hockey.

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