France to face Malaysia, Netherlands up against Germany in semis

New Delhi: France will face Malaysia, while The Netherlands will lock horns against defending champions Germany in the semifinals of the Hero Junior Men`s Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, here on friday.

Jean-Laurent Kierffer scored a brace as France stunned European champions Belgium 5-4 in a nail-biting quarterfinal match, while Malaysia beat Korea 2-1 in another last-eight match to register their place in the semifinals of the mega-event after a hiatus of 28 years.

Earlier in the day, The Netherlands eked out a hard-fought 3-2 win over New Zealand to progress to the last-four stage, and holders Germany edged past Australia 4-3 in the final quarterfinal.

In the quarterfinal between France and Belgium, the Frenchmen scored through Victor Charlet (15th minute), Hugo Genestet (40th), Kierffer (48th, 65th) and Theophile Ponthieu (58th) to register a hard-earned victory.

Belgium`s first goal was an own goal in 29th minute, while Maxime Plennevaux (37th, 47th) and Dorian Thiery (42nd) were the other goal-getters.

It was exciting clash between Belgium, widely expected to do well in this Junior World Cup, and a French team that had only lost to them on an overtime golden goal in semi-finals of the European Cup.

Belgium earned a penalty-corner via a video-referral in the second minute, only to shot wide.

Pieter Van Straaten had the first chance for France with a high backhand shot that was deflected by Arnaud Flamand in the Belgian goal. France wasted their first penalty-corner but Charlet was bang on target in the 15th minute to give the lead to Les Bleus.

Belgium immediately turned on the heat and equalised in the 29th minute through an own goal as both the teams went into the breather locked at 1-1.

After the crossover, it rained goals as both France and Belgium were in no mood to give an inch to each other.

Plennevaux gave Belgium the lead in the 37th minute, but Genestet brought France back on par three minutes later with a well-executed penalty-corner conversion.

Thiery put Belgium back in the lead two minutes later and then Plennevaux scored a spectacular diving goal to give the team a two-goal cushion for the first time in the match.

But the Belgians were in for a rude shock as France scored two goals in a span of 10 minutes to level the scores.

Kieffer brought France back within reach and then Ponthieu tied the score in the 58th minute.

Both teams threw caution to the wind in the final 10 minutes of the match.

Belgium seemed to have an upper hand but France earned a penalty-corner with a video-referral and scored their third goal in a row that came from the sticks of Kieffer, his second of the match and the seventh goal of the period, to take the lead with four minutes to go.

Belgium replaced their goal-keeper with a field player two minutes from time, but the French defence stood tall to make their maiden appearance in the semis of the tournament.

Meanwhile, in the first quarterfinal of the day, Netherlands had to toil hard to beat New Zealand 3-2.

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