Belgium beat The Netherlands in a shoot-out 3-2 to claim their first World Cup title ©Getty Images

Belgium have won the International Hockey Federation Men’s World Cup for the first time with a dramatic shoot-out victory over The Netherlands in Bhubaneswar.

It was the third time lucky for the Red Lions, who had to settle for silver medals at both the 2016 Olympic Games and the European Championships last year, at which they lost to the Dutch.

Today, though, their goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch helped Belgium avenge that defeat, making numerous key saves at the Kalinga Stadium to help his side become the first Belgian team to win a world title in any team sport.

As the game began the two evenly matched sides went at each other hard, with chances created at both ends.

Jeroen Hertzberger forced an early save from Belgium’s keeper Vincent Vanasch, while at the other end a speculative reverse stick strike from Simon Gougnard was almost turned into the Dutch goal by Tom Boon.

Throughout the second quarter the play kept switching from end-to-end, with Netherlands defender Glenn Schuurman making a crucial interception at one point to deny Florent Van Aubela clear scoring opportunity.

The Dutch, meanwhile, had two penalty corners before half-time but failed to capitalise with either.

The story remained the same in the third quarter with good chances not taken at both ends.

Belgium's goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch made several outstanding saves to help his team win the World Cup ©Getty Images
Belgium's goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch made several outstanding saves to help his team win the World Cup ©Getty Images

Belgium’s captain Thomas Briels forced a save from Pirmin Blaak while Mirco Pruijser flashed a reverse stick effort across the face of the Belgian goal.

Then as the match entered the fourth quarter both sides desperately tried to force a winner before the final whistle.

After yet more chances at both ends, Briels almost won it for Belgium only for Sander Baart to make a crucial goal line clearance, taking the match into a shoot-out.

In front of a sell-out crowd the Dutch initially took a 2-0 lead thanks to Hertzberger and Jonas de Geus, but then goals for Belgium from Florent Van Aubel and Victor Wegnez, combined with several brilliant saves from Vanasch, restored the tie at 2-2.

At that point Thijs van Dam then missed and in yet more drama Arthur de Sloover thought he had won it for Belgium when he scored, only for his effort to be ruled out by a Dutch video referral.

As it happened though, the Belgians did not have long to wait for their moment of triumph, as Florent Van Aubel then scored with the shoot-out into sudden death before Vanasch saved from Hertzberger to seal the win and the world title.

It means the Dutch have now lost two World Cup finals in succession, while the victory for Belgium may be seen as one of the greatest moments in the history of sport in that country. 

Earlier in the day, the bronze medal was claimed by former world champions Australia, who obliterated England 8-1 to seal their spot on the podium.

That result means England have now finished fourth at each of the last three World Cups, while Australia’s coach Tom Craig said afterwards that the performance was one his side could be proud of.