The Black Sticks Men have defeated Spain 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out to secure seventh place at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 in The Hague. While Belgium beat London Olympics Gold Medalists Germany 4-2 to take 5th place.
Chritopher Zeller gave lead to Germans in 18th minute, but Tom Boon and Tanguy Cosynus scored penalty corner goals in 25th and 40th minutes to earn lead for Belgium. German Florian Fuchs restored the parity in 56th minute, only to go down again in 59th minute when Floren van Aubel found the target. Evergreen Sebastian Dockier scored one more for Belgium to ensure the 5th place for his team.
In 7th place match, Kane Russell scored for the Kiwis just out from halftime before Spain equalised late in the second half to take the 7th/8th classification playoff to a one-on-one penalty shoot-out.
The Black Sticks converted all four attempts thanks to Hugo Inglis, Blair Hilton, Steve Edwards and Simon Child while goalkeeper Devon Manchester made two crucial saves to seal the result.
While the New Zealand men had higher ambitions at the tournament, the seventh place finish equals their best ever placing at a Hockey World Cup.
Head coach Colin Batch said it was pleasing to win the shoot-out and finish the tournament in a positive way. “All around I’m pleased we won the shoot-out and finished seventh. It’s not the position we wanted but was as good as we could do in the end,” he said.
“We slowly got into our stride in the first half and in the second half I thought we were well on top and created some good chances so it was a bit frustrating not to score another goal. We know we need to improve in a few areas and we still sit below the best teams, but there are some promising signs there and we were very competitive throughout the tournament.”
Kane Russell opened the scoring in the 30th minute after a tight and physical first half, firing a penalty corner drag flick low and into the right corner.
Spain were able to build pressure in the second half and equalised after earning a penalty corner with 16 minutes on the clock. Manchester saved the initial shot from Xavier Lleonart Blanco but the deflection bounced back and into the goal.
The Black Sticks lifted the intensity inside the final 10 minutes and created two prime scoring opportunities only to have them turned down by video referrals, taking the game to a shoot-out.
Yesterday the Black Sticks Women defeated China 4-0 in their 5th/6th classification playoff with goals from Anita Punt (2), Kayla Whitelock and Krystal Forgesson.
Later today in the men’s fixtures Argentina plays England in the bronze medal match before the Netherlands go head to head with Australia in the final.