Rio de Janeiro – Belgium set up an intriguing men’s Olympic hockey final against Argentina after they dumped out the world’s second-ranked team the Netherlands with a resounding 3-1 semi-final victory on Tuesday.
Goals from Jerome Truyens, Florent van Aubel and John-John Dohmen guaranteed Belgium a place in their first ever Olympic final.
“It’s an historical night. It was a great game, amazing against Holland. I think we’ve never beaten them in an official tournament,” Dohmen told reporters.
“Now we are doing the perfect tournament, the tournament for life and it’s at the right moment, at the Olympics.”
Following a dull first quarter, Truyens opened the scoring from a penalty corner attempt and Dohmen doubled the advantage three minutes later after getting into the circle and knocking in a pass.
Just 23 seconds after Dohmen scored, however, the Netherlands cut the lead as talisman Mink van der Weerden scored his ninth penalty corner goal of the Olympics to keep his side in the game heading into halftime.
“They played really well and I think we just sort of gave it away in the first half,” Van der Weerden said.
“We played really badly in the first half. No proper passing, no proper rhythm, nothing. We just gave it away in the first half, it was very silly. We never really were in the race. That’s how it felt for me.”
Belgium were on the back foot for most of the third quarter as they attempted to stifle the impressive Dutch attack, led by Van der Weerden.
Early in the fourth period, Belgium regained their two-goal advantage courtesy of a brilliant counter-attack, which ended up with Van Aubel scoring.
The Netherlands piled on the pressure with a wave of attacks, which required goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch to produce several big saves, but Belgium hung on for a spot in the final on Thursday.
They will face an in-form Argentina side, who powered into the final with a stunning 5-2 upset of defending champions Germany.