| London: Jan Phillip Rabente left a stamp of his brilliance to score twice in the final as defending champions Germany won the gold medal in men`s hockey at the London Olympic with a 2-1 victory over The Netherlands.
Compact defence on both sides kept the initial play confined to the midfield before the Netherlands mounted a series of raids and German goalkeeper Max Weinhold had to come out to block a couple of shots in the goalmouth.
Rabente tilted the scales in Gemany`s favour when he opened the scoring two minutes before half time by dribbling past two defenders in the circle and then beating the Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann with flick that ended in the right side of the net at the Riverbank Arena here yesterday.
Netherlands had to keep out some more German raids early in the second half before young shooter Mink van der Weerden converted their third penalty corner by sending the drag flick into the net in the 54th minute.
Germany enjoyed territorial domination for an extended period as they broke into the circle on three occasions, but were unable to breach the Dutch defence who fell back to crowd the scoring zone.
Rabente scored the gold medal winning goal in four minutes from the hooter when he lunged forward to deflect a long diagonal ball from Tobias Hauke into the boards.
Stunned by the goal, the Dutch pushed hard for an equaliser for the last three minutes, but all 11 Germany players fell back into their 25-year zone to deny the Netherlands strikers.
This is Germany`s fourth Olympic gold medal starting with 1972. It makes them the second most successful nation in Olympic men`s hockey history behind India`s eight gold medals.
Before Saturday`s final, Germany were level on three golds with Pakistan.
The Netherlands have won the Olympic men`s title twice -- in successive Games of 1996 and 2000.
After India`s six successive gold medals and two for Netherlands, this is only the third instance of a country retaining the Olympic men`s hockey title.
Netherlands were on the verge of a unique double after their women`s team won the gold medal on Friday. Had the Dutch won on Saturday, they would have become the first ever country to win both the men and women`s hockey gold medals in Olympic history.
Netherlands had beaten Germany 3-1 in their pool match encounter, which was the only match the defending champions lost in this tournament.
Germany knocked out World champions Australia in the semifinal, while the Netherlands had hammered hosts Great Britain to storm into the title round.
World`s No. 1 ranked Australia claimed the bronze medal with a 3-1 win over Great Britain.
First Published: Sunday, August 12, 2012, 08:20