New Delhi, Jan 17 IANS | 11 months ago

New Zealand will take on the mighty Netherlands in the final of the Hockey World League Final here Saturday after the two teams notched up wins in their respective semi-finals at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium Friday.

The Netherlands overcame reigning world champions Australia 4-3 in the last match of the day to make their entry into the last two.

Australia will now take on England in the bronze medal play-off after the Englishmen lost 6-7 in a penalty shootout to New Zealand.

The Black Sticks came into the match hoping to reverse the 1-5 defeat at the hands of England in their pool game earlier in the tournament. Both teams were of level pegging but Colin Batch's men were cooler in the shootout and emerged victorious after the regulation time score read 3-3.

New Zealand started more dangerously, winning four penalty corners in quick succession but George Pinner in the English goal made some sharp saves to keep the ball out.

The Englsih defence was breached finally by Marcus Child in the 12th minute when he fired a hard shot home from wide of the goal. England bounced back after Harry Martin dived full-length to score from a Mark Gleghorne cross in the 23rd minute.

The second half saw a lot of end-to-end action with both teams playing expansive hockey. Both relied on strong defence and quick counter-attacks, making it a physical match.

It was England who took the lead when Gleghorne fired home from the right hand side of the circle in the 49th minute.

But New Zealand refused to give up and continued with their attacking style of play, stretching the England defence. The Black Sticks were rewarded with two goals in quick succession, firstly from Stephen Jenness (61st minute) and then from Hugo Inglis (62nd).

Ashley Jackson scored England's equaliser after skipper Barry Middleton was fouled en route to goal in the 64 minute.

In the shootout, the sides remained level after the first five attempts and it all came down to sudden death. The match remained neck-and neck until Harry Martin missed for England and Phil Burrows became the Kiwi hero.

(Posted on 17-01-2014)

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