Olympic hockey: Netherlands beat Argentina to defend women`s title

Updated: Aug 11, 2012, 13:09 PM IST

London: The Netherlands became only the second team to retain their Olympic title with a 2-0 victory against world champions Argentina in the women`s hockey final Friday.

Chances were even in a scoreless first half before the Netherlands got the opening goal of the match in the 45th minute, Xinhua reported.

Carlien Dirske Van Den Heuvel followed up an Eva De Goede penalty corner flick to slap the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.

Captain Maartje Paumen made it 2-0 to the Netherlands in the 54th minute with an unstoppable penalty corner flick, scoring a record 14th Olympic goal in her second consecutive Olympic final.

Argentina could not find a response and the Netherlands claimed their third Olympic gold, equaling Australia`s record number of Olympic titles in women`s hockey.

Argentina have now won medals in four consecutive Olympic Games without claiming the title, adding London 2012 silver to the medals they won at Beijing 2008 with bronze, Athens 2004 with bronze and Sydney 2000 with silver.

De Goede was soaked in exhilaration after the games.

"This is incredible, I can hardly believe it. I had a good feeling from the beginning and we played such a good first half, and the second half, they (Argentina) were absolutely nowhere," she said.

For Kim Lammers, it was her first gold medal as she missed the Beijing Olympics due to injury.

"This is four years of training so hard, fighting back. Just this afternoon, we wanted to sleep but we couldn`t, and I told Sophie (Polkamp, her roommate) `We are going to win this, 2-0`. Ask her. It is an easy thing to say afterwards, but I was so sure, I just felt it and I didn`t doubt it for a second."

For Naomi Van As, it was her second Olympic title. "Bizarre. We saved our very best match for the end. My second gold, it is just bizarre."

In the bronze medal match, Britain won their first Olympic hockey medal since Barcelona 1992 with a 3-1 victory against New Zealand.

Britain`s Alex Danson earned Britain`s third penalty corner in the 45th minute and Captain Kate Walsh took responsibility, received the ball and pushed towards goal where Danson deflected the ball into the net from near the penalty spot to make it 1-0.

Crista Cullen helped make Britain`s penalty corners count in the second half, making it 2-0 in the 59th minute with a strong flick to New Zealand`s goalkeeper Bianca Russell`s right and then another Walsh variation produced a third goal in the 63rd minute for Sarah Thomas, deflecting the ball in at the post.

Stacey Michelsen gave New Zealand hope in the 68th minute with a penalty corner deflection from an Eshuis flick, but Britain held on for a 3-1 victory and the bronze medal.

New Zealand missed the chance to win their first medal in women`s hockey, but still finished fourth, their highest Olympic finishing position just four years after finishing in last in 12th place at Beijing 2008.

In the fifth-sixth game, Australia beat China 2-0 and China suffered their lowest ranking since their debut at 2000 Sydney Games.

IANS