A long free hit from near the half line by Mathias Muller, a dead stop by Gonzalo Peillat on the backline and a desperate dive by Niklas Wellen through the smallest of spaces to find the net with six seconds to go – Germany eked out a victory just in time here on Friday.
Avenging its Tokyo Olympics defeat, the Germans advanced to its fifth World Cup final, the first since 2010, with a last-gasp 4-3 win that underlined their reputation as the most dangerous side in world hockey, for the second game in a row, even as Australia’s wait to equal Pakistan’s four world titles continued.
It was a fair result for the Germans after 60 minutes of hard work and being the better team even though it was Australia that went 2-0 up at half time, scoring a goal apiece in the first two quarters through Jeremy Hayward’s PC conversion and Nathan Ephraums’ timely deflection.
Germany also had three penalty corners cancelled after Aussie referrals, and a stroke in the 3rd quarter, and still had an incredible 13 PCs through the game – an indication of its dominance upfront and the shaky Australian defence that kept getting breached but avoided conceding for a long period only due to messy German finishing.
Upfront too they wavered and lacked the control associated with the team.
In fact, Germany had a lot more possession but lack of final connections and wayward flicking let the team down in the first half.
Christopher Ruhr, Niklas Wellen and Marco Miltkau all kept tirelessly running in and captain Mats Grambusch was relentless in controlling the midfield, weaving through the defenders but could not find the backup for the final touch. But they stayed patient, kept their structure and repeatedly built their moves from the flanks, converging inside the circle, only to miss out.
The Aussies were, unusually, more reliant on counter-attacks instead of creating their own and while they were evenly balanced in the first 20 minutes, Germany had the upper hand thereafter.
Argentine-turned-German drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, under the scanner for being ineffective so far, picked the perfect game to come into form, scoring a hat-trick after missing seven.
Peillat was also everywhere on the field, backing up for defence and often seen high up inside the Australian circle to assist with scoring. It was his final pass from the backline that saw Wellen get the winner, setting up an all-Europe final.