The Netherlands will face underdogs New Zealand in the summit clash of the Hero Hockey World league Final tomorrow after the two teams eked out hard-fought wins over world champions Australia and England at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, here on Friday.
The Netherlands defeated Australia 4-3 in a thrilling second semifinal after New Zealand pipped out England 7-6 via penalty shoot-out in a keenly contested first semi-final match.
The first semifinal went into the penalty shoot-out after both teams finished at 3-3 in regulation time.
Ric Charlesworth's Australia will now face fourth ranked England in the third-fourth place play-off match tomorrow.
In the second semifinal, Constantijn Jonker (12th minute) opened the scoring for the Netherlands at the beginning of the first half when his reverse stick shot found its way into the back of the Australian net.
The Kookaburras struggled to create serious opportunities in the early stages while the Dutch took their chances and doubled their lead through Mink van der Weerden's (20th) dragflick fromÂ penalty corner that left the Aussie custodian Tyler Lovell stranded to takÂ 2-0 lead at the half-way mark.
After the change of ends, Australia came out like a wounded tiger and scored their first goal through Kieran Govers (42nd) who converted a penalty corner.
Five minutes later, Russell Ford (47th) levelled the proceedings to 2-2 by deflecting home a long pass.
The world champions fought hard to take the lead for the first time in the match, courtesy Govers (55th) who fired home another penalty corner.
This, incidentally, was Govers' sixth goal in this competition making him the new top-scorer in the eight-nation event. Jeroen Hertzberger (62nd) brought the Netherlands back into the match by equalising from open play.
With four minutes remaining Van der Weerden (66th) put the game beyond Australia's reach when he converted his second penalty corner of the day.
Earlier in the day, seventh ranked New Zealand came into the match with an aim to avenge their 1-5 drubbing in the pool match to England and as hoped they fought hard to secure the win over the fourth ranked team.
Colin Batch's men kept their cool in the shoot-out to emerge winners after both New Zealand and England were tied at 1-1 at the half time and then 3-3 at the final hooter.
Incidentally, it was New Zealand second win in the shoot-outs after having defeated Argentina in the quarterfinal.
The Black Sticks certainly were the sharper of the two teams in the opening exchanges by winning four penalty corners in quick succession but George Pinner, in the England goal, made some brilliant saves to keep the ball away from the back of the net.
The England defence was breached finally by Marcus Child (12th minute), who fired home a hard shot from wide of the goal.
New Zealand were unlucky not to double the lead when an unmarked Simon Child hit the side netting.
England bounced back through Harry Martin (23th) who dived full-length to sent home from Mark Gleghorne's cross as both the teams went into the breather locked at a goal apiece.
The second half witnessed a lot of end-to-end action, with both teams playing expansive hockey. Both teams mainly relied on strong defence and quick counter attacks.
It was England who took the lead for the first time in the match when Gleghorne (49th) fired home from the right side of the circle.
New Zealand, however, 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 a penalty corner conversion from Stephen Jenness (61st) and then a field goal from Hugo Inglis (62nd).
But Ashley Jackson (64th) scored England's equaliser from a penalty stroke after Barry Middleton was fouled inside the circle to take the game into shoot-out.
In the shoot-out, the sides remained level after the first five attempts, and it all came down to sudden death.
Both sides remained neck and neck until Harry Martin missed for England and Phil Burrows became the Black Sticks hero.