Six-time champions Germany and Argentina earned hard-fought wins over Spain and Netherlands respectively to enter the semifinals of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. (More Hockey News)
In the first quarterfinal of the day, Germany eked out a narrow 3-1 win over Spain in the shoot-out after both the teams were locked at 2-2 in regulation time, before Argentina beat Netherlands 2-1.
Germany took the lead from a penalty stroke through Christopher Kutter in the fifth minute but the lead was shortlived as Ignacio Abajo equalised for Spain from a penalty corner six minutes later.
After two barren quarters, it was Spain who shocked the Germans in the 59th minute when Eduard de Ignacio-Simo scored a fine field goal to give his side the lead. There was more drama in store as just at the stroke of the hooter, Germany secured a penalty corner and Masi Pfandt stepped up to take the match into a shoot-out.
In the shoot-out, Paul Smith, Michel Struthoff and Hannes Muller found the back of the net, while Matteo Poljaric missed. Spain were awful from the one-on-one situation as Abajo, Guilermo Fortuno and de Ignaci-Simo missed while only Gerard Clapes scored.
Germany are the most successful team in the history of the Junior World Cup having won the tournament six times. The Germans won consecutive titles in 2009 and 2013 in New Delhi, which was their last crown.
Germany secured the bronze medal in the last edition of the tournament in 2016 in Lucknow. In the second last-eight round match, it took 24 minutes to break the deadlock when Argentina, the 2005 champions, surged ahead through Joaquin Kruger's field strike.
Kruger positioned himself perfectly at the backpost to tap in a free hit from outside the circle. But Netherlands responded in no time when Miles Bukkens converted a penalty corner in the very next minute to go into half-time locked at 1-1.
Netherlands started on a strong note after the change of ends and secured four penalty corners in quick time but the Argentine defence stood tall to thwart the dangers. The game eventually turned out to be a heartbreak for Netherlands as an own goal in the 59th minute put paid to their hopes.
Sheldon Schouten was at the wrong end of the proceedings when he deflected in Floris Middendorp’s cross from the left flank.