Rourkela, March 11 (IANS) A goal in the 7th minute of the match proved enough for World Champion Germany as they defeated Australia 1-0 in a mini-cluster match of the FIH Hockey Pro League at the Birsa Munda International Stadium here on Saturday.
Malte Hellwig scored off a penalty corner in the 7th minute of the match for Germany, who then kept the Kookaburras at bay for the remaining three quarters to win the match.
Australia had plenty of chances, but German goalkeeper Jean-Paul Danneberg was incredible in the goal, pulling off brilliant saves all through the game, securing Germany’s clean sheet and earning all 3 points for them.
With this win, Germany have 11 points from three outright wins, one draw, one win in a shoot-out and two defeats in a shoot-out. They are tied on 11 points with India, who too have 11 points.
Though Australia dominated early possession, Germany made a bright start and scored the first goal. They earned two successive penalty corners in the 7th minute and Hellwig capitalised on it to give Germany an early lead.
The second quarter continued from where the first quarter left off as Australia continued their search for the equaliser but Germany remained disciplined in defence. Australia’s best chance came midway through the quarter as a cross from the right by James Collins just required a touch by Nathan Ephraums in front of the goal, but the deflection by Ephraums came off his foot instead of the stick.
Australia won their first penalty corner with 5 minutes left in the half but Danneberg in the goal for Germany made the save. Jack Welch forced another save out of Danneberg with a powerful hit from the top of the circle and Hinrichs was sharp in gathering the rebound and clearing.
Germany and Australia exchanged chances early in the second half. Niklas Bosserhoff’s hit into the circle needed a slight touch from diving Kleinlein but he missed. Australia then had a fantastic opportunity off a German turnover with Lachlan Sharp getting off a shot from the top of the circle, but Ephraums attempted deflection took the ball away from the goal. The third quarter failed to produce a goal despite the high intensity as Australia’s search for an equaliser and Germany’s search for a cushion continued into the final fifteen minutes.
Australia won a penalty corner with 10 minutes left in the game as Ephraums shot from close range was blocked by Danneberg but the ball got stuck under his leg and Australia had an opportunity.
It was Welch who took on the corner but his shot was run down brilliantly by Tom Grambusch. Australia won another penalty corner a few seconds later, but a fantastic double save by Danneberg continued to frustrate the Kookaburras.
Danneberg continued thwarting Australian attacks, pulling off saves from a drag flick by Gupte and a tomahawk by Marais to keep Germany ahead with 5 minutes left in the game. With 15 seconds left in the game Australia mustered one final chance through a penalty corner, but Danneberg saved again and earned Germany a win and all three points.