The never-say-die attitude of the German teams came to the fore again as Die Honamas came back from a two-goal deficit for the third match in succession to overcome holders Belgium 5-4 in a sudden death shoot-out after the Red Lions had scored in the last minute to tie 3-3 in regulation time in the final of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup 2023 at the Kalinga Stadium, here on Sunday.
This is Germany's third crown in the men's World Cup after winning the title in 2002 and 2006 as they joined the Netherlands and Australia with three titles in the prestigious tournament.
Pakistan is the most successful nation in the Men's Hockey World Cup with four titles. Germany also became the fourth team to register a comeback from a two-goal deficit in the World Cup final and also the fourth team to win the World Cup final in a shoot-out after the Netherlands in 1973, Pakistan in 1994 and Belgium in 2018.
With Florent Van Aubel (5th min) and Tanguy Cosyns (10th min) scoring for Belgium, Germany were 2-0 down at the end of the first quarter. But they kept their hopes alive when Niklas Wellen scored in the 28th minute to make it 2-1 just before half-time.
They could have been 2-2 if Vanasch had not pulled off a brilliant save off a Tom Grambausch penalty stroke in the 18th minute. Gonzalo Peillat converted a penalty corner in the 40th minute to pull them level 2-2 and when Mats Grambusch scored an opportunistic field goal, Germany looked on their way to victory, leading 3-2 after 47 minutes.
Belgium made some superb attacks but failed to score before they earned three successive penalty corners with two minutes to go and off the third, Tom Boon scored to make it 3-3.
After Florent Van Aubel and Niklas Wellen had scored off the first shoot-out attempt for their respective teams, Germany goalkeeper Alexander Stadler saved attempts from Arthur De Sloover and Victor Wegnez while Hannes Muller scored and Marco Miltkau missed for Germany as the Die Honamas led 2-1 after three shoot-out tries.
Tanguy Cosyns of Belgium and Thies Prinz of Germany scored the next two chances before Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch saved Germany skipper Mats Grambusch's effort to pull the defending champions 3-3 and take the match to Sudden death.
Wellen and Van Aubel scored the first attempts for their respective teams in sudden death before Prinz scored and Tanguy Cosyns missed to give Germany a well-deserved title.
It was a scintillating final in which fortunes swung from one side to another as both teams refused to give an inch. Belgium won the 2018 World Cup in a shoot-out victory and had done the same in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
But their luck ran out against a side that had scored a come-from-behind win. Both Germany and Belgium were in the same Pool in the preliminary stage and had played out a 5-5 draw.
On Sunday. Though Belgium had more ball possession and more circle entries and shots at goal, Germany earned six penalty corners to four Belgium. Germany converted two PCs while Belgium could score off only one.