Rabente brace destroys Dutch as Germany retains Olympic hockey crown
Saturday, 11 August 2012
August 11 - Jan Philipp Rabente struck a late winner as Germany retained their Olympic gold, ending Dutch dreams of becoming the first nation to win both the men's and women's hockey tournaments.
The Netherlands were still unable to rediscover the heights of their 9-2 semi-final win over hosts Britain.
In that match, they seemed to have invented a brand of "total hockey" 40 years after Rinus Michels created "total football" with Ajax and then the Netherlands.
However they faced the same fate to that famous Dutch football team, suffering a 2-1 defeat on the biggest stage of all in a final to their fierce rivals, Germany.
Rabente (pictured top, in foreground) was the German hero on the night as he also gave them the lead just before half-time in a closely fought encounter.
The Netherlands had the first sight of goal through Rogier Hofman, but his backhand effort was saved by Max Weinhold.
Florian Fuchs then embarked on a superb run but his shot flew just wide, Germany's best chance before they finally took the lead two minutes before the break.
Thilo Stralkowski won a free kick which Timo Wess played out wide to Rabente, who darted inside before embarking on an intelligent dribble which took him into the area, before firing past Jaap Stockmann.
Rabente made an unlikely hero, given that he had scored just six times previously for Germany in 71 appearances, the only other squad member with fewer was the goalkeeper, Weinhold.
Germany had the clearer chances at the start of the second period as the Netherlands struggled to find a way back into the game.
They were particularly dangerous on the right hand side, with Matthias Witthaus and then Philipp Zeller both firing in crosses which could easily have led to a second goal.
It was no surprise when Germany hit the post, again from a right wing attack, as Wess cut the ball back for Witthaus, who was unfortunate that his effort did not double the lead.
Instead that prompted a renewed urgency from Paul van Ass' side, who enjoyed a sustained period of pressure which resulted in two penalty corners in succession.
From the second, Mink van der Weerden sent a perfect angled shot into the top right corner of the goal to level the scores.
That goal was van der Weerden's eighth of the tournament, but his team could not build on it to win a first Olympic gold since 2000.
Instead Germany rallied and Christopher Zeller went close with a fierce effort saved by Stockmann.
With the Dutch struggling to hold them off, Germany eventually restored their lead with just minutes remaining.
Again the goal came from Wess playing the ball into Rabente, who darted into the circle before Marcel Balkestein hacked the ball away.
Rabente then ran behind the goal and back onto the pitch on the other side of the circle just in time to turn Tobias Hauke's forward pass into the net.
The Netherlands could not fashion a chance to equalise again and that meant Germany were able to celebrate a second successive Olympic gold.
It was a third in a row for coach Markus Weise, who led the women to Olympic glory in 2004, before taking charge of the men for Beijing 2008.
"This was a grand fight by my team," said Weise.
"We did not let the Dutch play their game as much as other sides before us.
"I've never been happier."
"The feeling cannot be described, it's almost impossible to believe it," added Rabente.
"I would never have imagined scoring two goals in my wildest dreams."
Van Ass congratulated Germany afterwards: "I have to say the Germans defended superbly today.
"We are very skilful, but the Germans won it despite our skills."
Bronze went to Australia, who comfortably beat Britain in their game earlier in the day.
Simon Orchard fired the Australians in front before Ashley Jackson turned home a well worked penalty corner before half time.
Britain kept Australia at bay until Jamie Dwyer converted a late penalty corner, while Kieran Govers then struck a third to make sure of victory and a medal.
August 2012: Rampant Dutch crush GB men's hockey team's dream of gold