Germany draw with Dutch to open semis race

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Defending champions Germany and the Netherlands finished a 2-2 draw in their Pool A match of the Hockey World Cup on Sunday.

Updated: March 08, 2010 08:36 IST
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New Delhi:

Defending champions Germany playedout a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Netherlands on Sunday to throw openthe semi-final race in the men's field hockey World Cup.

Dutchskipper Teun de Nooijer scored the equaliser four minutes before thefinal whistle to help his team share the points in a crucial group Amatch at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

With the last round ofleague matches on Tuesday, the Netherlands lead the group with 10points, followed by Germany on eight, South Korea on seven and NewZealand on six.

The Dutch need a draw against the Koreans to takeone of the two semi-final spots from the group. A Korean win could seethe Asian champions advance.

Germany must secure full points fromNew Zealand to confirm their place, while the Black Sticks also need towin and hope the other results go their way.

European championsEngland have already taken a semi-final place from group B withAustralia the favourites to grab the second spot.

The Netherlands led Germany 1-0 at half-time after Wouter Jolie deflected in his team's third penalty corner in the 23rd minute.

TheGermans, seeking a hat-trick of World Cup titles to add to theirOlympic gold medal won at Beijing, hit back with goals from Oliver Kornin the 43rd minute and Jan-Marco Montag in the 63rd.

As theminutes ticked away, de Nooijer pounced on a pass from the right andpushed the ball in past a stunned German goalkeeper Tim Jessulat.

"Itsalways good to get one point, rather than lose three," said de Nooijer."We were lucky to get that chance and took it. But we have to play wellagainst the Koreans to make the semis."

German captain Max Muller said he was disappointed to share points.

"Great game, but wish we had won," he said. "We now have to wait till our last match to see how it goes.

"Australiaare still the favourites to win the title. Winning a third time is noton our minds. Its a young team and I am glad we are playing goodhockey."

Earlier, Jang Jong-Hyun scored three goals as South Korea routed lowly Canada 9-2 to keep their semi-final hopes alive.

NamHyun-Woo and You Hyo-Sik chipped in with two goals apiece for SouthKorea as the Asian champions ran circles around the hapless Canadiandefence in the high-scoring match.

The second half produced nine goals, two of them to Canada's Philip Wright, after the Koreans led 2-0 at the interval.

"We needed this win badly and I am happy it all came together today," said Korean coach Shin Seok-Kyo.

"Itwill take a lot from our side, and also our rivals, to ensure we makeit to the semi-finals. We can only control what we do and that is tobeat the Dutch."

New Zealand's chances of making the knock-out round suffered a setback when they lost 1-0 to Argentina in another group A match.

NewZealand, who would have moved to nine points had they beaten Argentina,paid dearly for a missed penalty stroke by Ryan Archibald three minutesbefore the interval.

Argentina, beaten in their three previousgames, earned the winner in the 55th minute through Facundo Callioni,who diverted in a pass from the right by Pedro Ibarra.

"Its disappointing to lose such a crucial game," said New Zealand captain Dean Couzins.

"Weknew this could be a vital match and that is how it turned out. Wetried our best in the end to get the equaliser, but missed a fewchances.

"It now all boils down to other games, but we still need to overcome the Germans."

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