Australia loses 4-3 to the Netherlands in a semi-final shootout at the Hockey World Cup in India
The Kookaburras have missed their shot at a historic third straight World Cup title after losing a heartbreaking semi-final to the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shootout.
With scores locked 2-2 at regular time, the shootout went to sudden death after both teams only converted three of their opening five shots in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar.
Kookaburras tweet: We’ve been beaten in a shootout in the #HWC2018 semi-finals… we’ll play for bronze tomorrow. For now, that hurts #PrideOfTheKookas
After forward Jeroen Hertzberger scored for the Netherlands, Dutch goalkeeper Pirman Blaak swept away Daniel Beale’s look on goal to seal their path to a final against Belgium.
It was a cruel defeat for the world number one team, who appeared to have lost in regular time only for captain Eddie Ockenden’s last-gasp shot to be deflected in with 30 seconds to go.
Ockenden was involved twice in the build-up, bringing down a lofted ball and passing wide before receiving it back and forcing the shootout.
But the Kookaburras were unable to capitalise on their second chance, with Aran Zalewski and Tim Brand missing, and Beale failing with his second shot.
Ranked number four in the world, the Netherlands pounced on an uncharacteristically high turnover rate by the Australians and took a two-goal lead into half-time.
An open and free-flowing first half tightened up after the break, but Tim Howard converted a 44th-minute penalty corner to set up a grandstand final term.
The two-time defending champions pressed hard in the fourth quarter, with Trent Mitton’s diving effort gloved away by Blaak.
Goalkeeper Tyler Lovell was pulled from goal and leading goalscorer Blake Govers had a last-gasp penalty corner, but Ockenden provided the game-changer.
The dramatic win for the Netherlands comes four years after they were walloped 6-1 by the Kookaburras in the 2014 World Cup final on their own turf.
Chances flowed early and often for both teams in the opening quarter, with Australia drawing a number of saves from Blaak.
But it was the Netherlands who took their opportunities, with both Glenn Schuurman and Seve van Ass finding the back of the net inside the first half.
Hockey World Cup 2018 tweet: Here’s how the World Cup campaign looks now. Just two teams left to fight for the title! #HWC2018 #Odisha2018
Blaak was named man-of-the-match, saving 10 shots on his goal.
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch said he was confident with the five players he picked in the shootout, but conceded he might change his line-up if presented with the same situation.
“We went with the five and Andrew Charter as the goalkeeper. We believe that was the right call,” Batch said.
“We’ve got another five guys who can take them. If we have to do it tomorrow, we’ll probably change things up. But it’s hit and miss.
“Good technique survives sometimes but you could also be unlucky.”
Batch’s side now meet England in the third-place playoff, while the Netherlands face Belgium in the final, after the Belgians beat England 6-0 in the other semi-final.