Beijing:Power-packed Germany annexed the Olympic men's hockey gold medal after 16 years with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Spain in the final on Saturday.
Christopher Zeller netted the winner in the 16th minute with a ferocious penalty corner before the Germans warded off repeated Spanish attacks to strike gold in field hockey's 100th year at the Olympics.
Germany added the Olympic title to the World Cup triumph two years ago, reinforcing their credentials as the sport's foremost nation despite losing the number one ranking to Australia in June.
Germany improved upon their bronze medal finish at Athens four years ago, when they beat Spain 4-3 in the play-off, to win their first gold since the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
It was two-in-a-row for coach Markus Weise, who had led the German women's team to their maiden Olympic title in Athens before taking up the men's job after Bernhard Peters switched to football.
Spain lived up to their billing as the best team never to have won the Olympic gold as they faltered for the third time after losing finals to India in 1980 and the Netherlands in 1996.
The Spanish strikers, led by the seasoned Santi Freixa, raided the rivals' half through 70 minutes of gripping hockey, but could not get past the sturdy German defence that packed a powerful punch.
Freixa, who had scored five goals in the competition, failed to convert three penalty corners as Germany built on the 1-0 win over Spain in the preliminary league.
Meanwhile, Athens Olympic champions Australia won the bronze medal with a spectacular 6-2 win over the Netherlands earlier on Saturday.
The world number one Kookaburras, smarting from Thursday's semi-final loss to Spain, took their frustration out on the Dutch by scoring three goals in the first nine minutes.
The win bettered Australia's 6-3 triumph over Pakistan in a similar play-off for the bronze at their home Olympics in Sydney in 2000.
"It took some time coming to grips with the semi-final defeat," said Australia's outgoing coach Barry Dancer. "We grieved for some time, dealt with our emotions and started to refocus.
"This is a team with comradeship, togetherness and unity and is well-placed going into 2010 and beyond."
The Netherlands failed to win a medal for the first time in four successive Olympics, having won the title in 1996 and 2000 and a silver in Athens four years ago.
The loss meant the veteran Dutch trio of Teun de Nooijer, goalkeeper Guus Vogels and captain Jeroen Delmee return home empty-handed from their fourth and final Olympic appearance.
"We let ourselves down, embarrassed ourselves and our country," said Taekema. "We may be gone, but we need to find players who will be hungry to reach for the top."
Field hockey was first played at the Olympics in the 1908 Games in London, but it was not until 1928 in Amsterdam that it became a regular medal sport.