Saturday, August 23, 2008

Holland claim women's Olympic title

The Netherlands laid down one more formidable performance to reclaim the Olympic title with a 2-0 against China.

The Dutch produced a dominant performance and fully deserved the title, winning seven in-a-row with Maartje Paumen creating a scoring-record for the tournament with 11 goals.

They took firm charge of the proceedings from the very start, pushing forward aggressively and creating scores of chances in a cracking contest.They were unable to score in the first half with penalty corner superstar Paumen denied on three occasions.

China had to thank goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng to thank, who pulled a number of top class saves to maintain a half time shutout.China did a fantastic job at blocking the Dutch efforts, counter-attacking at great pace, but halfway through the second half, Naomi van As finally scored for the Netherlands, to the great relief of her team mates. From corner confusion, Minke Smabers shot was well saved but found injector van As free to slap into the empty goal.

China pushed forward but the Dutch sucked it up, holding the ball for long periods and made the title theirs when Maartje Goderie goal reverse took them to the finishing line.

The Dutch women are thus World and Olympic Champions, while China have won their first ever Olympic hockey medal. Having won seven of their seven matches in Beijing with a goal difference of 21:5, the title is undoubtedly deserved - Holland have been the best women's team in Beijing.

In the match for third place, Las Leonas defeated the Olympic Champions of 2004, Germany, to take bronze in what will in all likelihood have been the last Olympic Games for a number of their great players such as Magdalena Aicega, Alejandra Gulla, Mechi Margalot and quite possibly also La Maga - Luciana Aymar.

Aymar celebrated her 250th cap in style as her side came out blazing against an exhausted opposition.

They had an early string of chances including a handful of penalty corners, one of which yielded an early lead when Rosario Luchetti deflected a penalty corner rebound shot past German goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds.

The Germans were still taking their time getting their feet on the ground, and fell further behind when Carla Rebecchi extended the lead with a smart goal as an Alejandra Gulla shot was warded off to see the ball head for the out, but Rebecchi intervened to navigate it across the line and into the goal.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Germany got one back through Anke Kuehn but Noel Barrionuevo converted a penalty corner with a hard flick with a little more than 5 minutes on the clock, taking her team out of reach.

The Argentine women celebrated their bronze medal with genuine elation, despite quite possibly having come to Beijing with higher aspirations, and they were congratulated by Diego Maradona on their effort, while the German girls were lying on the field exhausted and crying tears of despair.

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