London 2018 Womens Hockey World Cup

Ladies World Cup Final and 3 4 position 365

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Netherlands storm to gold and records get re-written at Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup London 2018

  • Netherlands win eighth title with stunning final performance
  • Ireland take silver and move into top 10 of FIH Hero World Rankings
  • Spain make their own history by winning bronze

London: Relentless and magnificent. The Netherlands have absolutely owned the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup since their opening 7-0 scoreline against Korea.

The women in orange might have been slightly stunned by the reception their opponents received as they walked out for the final but then it was business as usual – except in this case, the word 'usual' is a synonym for unparalleled excellence.

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If ever a World Cup title was warranted, it was this one and the question every other coach has to be asking is "How do we beat the Dutch?"

London turned green for the afternoon as Ireland women played out the final chapter of their fascinating World Cup journey. The crowd sang the Irish national anthem with a pride and a passion that moved even the most neutral of spectators and the Netherlands were, for just a moment, a sideshow to the main event.

Then the action started on the pitch. Every Irish pass was greeted with a roar of approval. A heavy tackle by Caia van Maasakker was booed, albeit with an undercurrent of humour. But this is the Dutch and it was going to take a lot more than a noisy crowd to put them off course.

For Chloe Watkins and Eva de Goede, this final was a particularly special occasion as both players were representing their respective nations for the 200th time.

Ireland started brightly, with the excellent Nikki Evans showing the confidence to take the Dutch on and create opportunities for her team mates. Gradually though, the Dutch felt their way into the game and, as is their style, a sweeping team move allowed Vitality Best PLayer Lidewij Welten to give them a lead in the seventh minute.

After the quarter break it was again a team move that doubled that lead. Frederique Matla took the ball down the Dutch right-hand side of the pitch, before slipping to Xan de Waard. Her shot was weak and dealt with easily by Goalkeeper of the Tournament Ayeisha McFerran but the rebound fell to Kelly Jonker who made no mistake as she shot home with a clipped backhand shot.

Netherlands began to turn the pressure up, winning two penalty corners in quick succession. Unusually for the world number one team, the shots failed to produce goals, but this was rectified a few minutes later as the tournament's Top Scorer Kitty van Male pounced on a rebounded effort from van Maasakker and shot home for her eighth goal of the tournament.

With just 30 seconds left on the clock, Malou Pheninckx unleashed a shot from the edge of the circle that flew into the top corner of the Ireland goal. McFerran, who has been so excellent all tournament could do nothing about the rocket of a shot – Pheninckx's third goal for her nation and her third of this tournament.

The half time break gave Graham Shaw a chance to regroup his shattered troops but it also gave Alyson Annan an opportunity to put her foot down even more firmly on the pedal.

The Netherlands came out with every intention of making each attack count and just two minutes into the half, Marloes Keetels was on hand to knock the ball into the goal after another defence splitting run by Welten.

Caia van Maasakker finally found her groove as she scored from the penalty corner – her third of the tournament. The shot was perfectly placed just out of McFerran's reach.

Irish hopes were lifted for a moment when a Netherlands penalty corner broke down and a quick move saw the Deirdrie Duke alone with just one Dutch defender. A lot is said about the Netherland's attack but on this occasion it was the defence that showed its class. Irene van Assem made the tackle and the danger was averted with composure.

And so to the last 15 minutes of this compelling story. The Netherlands were within touching distance of the trophy for an amazing eighth time, and for the second consecutive edition. But Ireland had played their own part in this story too.

As one highly ranked team after another had fallen by the wayside, the story just got more amazing and that is why millions were tuning in across the world and the stadium was full of people determined to see how the final chapter panned out.

With their total domination of the sport since 2016, harking back to a single loss in July 2017, the Netherlands are one of the best sports team in the world at the moment, but for sheer exhilaration, this World Cup also belongs to the teams that overturned the rankings and entertained the crowds for 15 glorious days of hockey.

The final score of 6-0 is an all-time record for World Cup finals, and it is a signal to the hockey world that the Netherlands have set the bar very high indeed.

Ireland's inspirational captain Kathryn Mullan reflected back: "It was a tough, tough game. We prepared as we did for all the other games. The turn around time was tight and we knew it was going to be a real physical effort from us and we weren't perhaps as fresh as we would have liked. But credit where credit is due, the Dutch are phenomenal.

"We may be disappointed when we look back at the game as to how they got in, but the better team on the day won. The effort my teammates put in was brilliant.

"It's tough right now, but in a few weeks or month we will look back with pride. We came in ranked 16th and we wanted to cause an upset. I'm wearing a silver medal, so we have definitely caused an upset."

Netherlands' Frederique Matla, said: "This is my first world cup so I am really excited. We set out to attack. We knew they had nothing to lose but we knew we just had to play our game."

Netherlands Head Coach Alyson Annan said: "We deservedly won, we played the best hockey throughout the tournament and this was shown today.

"There are things we have taken from this tournament that are not good enough and we need to improve on those. Some attacking things and our finsihing also needs to be improved on."

"There are also some defensive things that need to be improved."

Asked how she would beat the Netherlands if she were head coach to another nation, the World Cup winning coach said: "That is a question I have set myself – that is my homework."

Bronze Medal Match

Spain's incredible journey at the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup came to a bronze-tinted end as they defeated Australia with a consummate display of creative, attacking hockey.

The bronze medal match was a clash between Australia, the world number five team and 2014 silver medallists, and Spain who, with a FIH Hero World Ranking of 11, have played way beyond initial expectations.

The Australian team had lost in shoot-out to the Netherlands less than 24 hours earlier, while Spain had lost to Ireland in similar fashion in the first semi-final.

Australia certainly looked the more battered of the two teams contesting the bronze medal. Jodie Kenny was sporting heavy strapping on her shoulder and Renee Taylor was unable to play, so Lily Brazel had come into the squad as a replacement.

Spain in contrast looked lively as they chased their best finish in a World Cup – their best previous result was fourth in 2006. Certainly it was Spain who came flying out of the blocks and were rewarded with a goal just ten minutes into the game. Maria Lopez was the scorer after yet another innovative penalty corner routine saw Lynch unable to react to the quick switch of play.

It was the strength of the defence that led to the second goal. Australia attacked but lost possession. The ball up the pitch found Beatriz Perez, who in turn found Berta Bonastre. The player, who had been so devastated after her team's loss to Ireland the previous day, was on hand to fire home.

As the team's re-emerged into the sweltering hot Arena after the half-time break, Bonastre said: "We know it is not how we start the game but how we finish it. We are here to win a medal, we really deserve it."

The third quarter saw Spain look to increase their lead; again their defence were solid as the Australia midfield and attack tried to unpick them. The breakthrough eventually came as Emily Hurtz found Emily Smith. The Hockeyroo's captain's shot was goal bound but Kathryn Slattery just made sure and got a nick on the ball to halve the deficit.

As the fourth quarter counted down, both teams began to look as if they were suffering from the heat and the previous day's exertion. A crucial moment in the match however saw Alicia Magaz strike the ball home to extend the lead to 3-1.

Australia's Head Coach Paul Gaudoin removed Rachael Lynch and the Australia side ramped up the pressure. Slattery and Maddy Fitzpatrick both ran at the Red Sticks defence but found the wall impenetrable.

The last chance for Australia came with just over two minutes left. A penalty corner was taken by Georgina Morgan but her shot was not strong enough to give Smith the chance of a deflection. As Australia's most recent recruit Lily Brazel thumped the ball forwards, the excellent Rocio Gutierrez swept the ball forward and Spain were able to celebrate their first medal at a World Cup.

"We didn't put in a performance yesterday, the girls were gutted and they wanted to put it right today," said Spain's Head Coach Adrian Lock.

"We took it to Australia. the goals went in and once they went in we weren't going to let that go.

"We talked about the opportunity to do something that no-one has ever done before. We wanted to make our own history. We have played them five times this year, we hadn't beaten them but we drew four times. We knew we could win today," he added.

Australia's Head Coach Paul Gaudoin said: "Spain were very good today and we weren't quite there today. We will learn a lot from today's performance. We can't use yesterday's match as an excuse for today."

A jubilant Cristina Guinea said: "It's like a dream come true and we are so grateful that our hard work has paid off. We have a great team attitude and everyone takes responsibility for defence and attack. There are more medals to come."


Gold medal match

Netherland v Ireland 6-0

Bronze medal match

Australia v Spain 1-3

Individiual Awards:

Vitality Best Player:Lidewij Welten (NED)
Best Goalkeeper:Ayeisha McFerran (IRL)
Young Player:Lucina von der Hyde (ARG)
Hero Top Scorer: Kitty van Male (NED) (8)

Final placings:

1st Netherlands
2nd Ireland
3rd Spain
4th Australia
5th Germany
6th England
7th Argentina
8th India
9th Italy
10th Belgium
11th New Zealand
12th Korea
13th Japan
14th USA
15th South Africa
16th China

Ireland Make it through to a historic final against the Netherlands.

Ireland and Netherlands to contest final of Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup London 2018

  • Netherlands looking to retain title after beating Australia in shoot out
  • Ireland are lowest ranked team to ever contest World Cup final
  • Spain and Australia to compete for bronze
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Picture Avtar Bhurji:

London:The second lowest ranked team in the competition will take on the world number one team and reigning champions in a fascinating final of the Vitlaity Hockey Women's World Cup.

After a World Cup that has been full of surprises, Ireland and Netherlands will face each other to decide who wins the blue riband event.

The bronze medal match will be a contest between the 2014 silver medallists and Oceania Champions Australia and Spain, who are ranked 11th in the FIH Hero World Rankings.

In the opening match on semi-final day, two teams and two managers who know each other well played off for the chance to make history for their respective nations.

Spain's best World Cup result to date is a fourth place in 2006, while Ireland had only won three games in their World Cup history. Whatever happens from here on in, both nations have played their part in making this the World Cup of surprises.

"Both teams have great spirit and it is a real shame that one team won't make it to the final," said Adrian Lock, Head Coach of Spain.

Sixty minutes and a tense shoot out later and it was Graham Shaw's Ireland who made it through to the final of the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup.

Ireland have been re-writing hockey history since they arrived in London and were the first team to make it through to the quarter-finals. They have also been re-writing the script: "We only created that penalty corner routine a few days ago," revealed Shaw, talking about the goal that gave his team the lead. "We were going to use it against India but we didn't win a penalty corner to use it."

In the match, the Green Army started the sharper, playing with the energy and confidence that has been core to their performance throughout the World Cup. They won a penalty corner just three minutes into the game after captain Kathryn Mullan fired a speculative pass into the Spain circle. That ball struck a Spanish foot to win the corner. Shirley McCay's strike was deflected by Anna O'Flanagan through the pads of Maria Ruiz in the Spain goal to give the Green Army an early lead.

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With a minute to go in the quarter, Spain were just starting to play their game. Rocio Gutierrez wove some magic up the right of the pitch, slipping the ball to Carola Salvatella, who was unlucky to tip the ball just around the corner of the goal.

"We are definitely not going to sit back and consolidate," said Graham Shaw at the quarter break. "It's not something we are very good at, we want to go out and score as many goals as we can."

Spain had other plans though, as they continued where they left off, piling pressure on the Ireland defence.

Xantal Gine nearly scored the most audacious goal of the competition as she chopped the ball backwards through her legs. Fortunately for Ireland the move was seen by Ayeisha McFerran in the Ireland goal and she reacted swiftly to clear the danger.

Deirdrie Duke was unlucky not to put her team two ahead after Nicola Daly and O'Flanagan worked the ball swiftly down the Irish right hand side of the pitch. McCay touched the ball to Duke but her shot flew just wide.

Ireland won their third penalty corner of the game when Nicola Evans put in a shift in the Spanish circle to force the ball onto a Spanish player's foot. The shot was chased down but the Irish will be pleased to have instigated an attack after an onslaught by their opponents for most of the quarter.

The wonderful stick skills of the Spanish players was very much in evidence as the Red Sticks tightened their grip on the game in the second half. Desperately trying to find the equaliser, the Spanish players probed at the Irish defence. The breakthrough came as Georgina Oliva played in a pass that found Perez. The energetic forward dodged the Irish sticks and found Alicia Magaz, who made no mistake as she slotted the ball past McFerran – only the third goal the 'keeper had conceded all tournament, except in shoot out situations.

The final 10 minutes saw Spain really preventing Ireland from playing. Georgina Oliva was controlling the centre of the pitch and her clever passes were constantly putting the Irish defence under pressure. The excellent Shirley McCay rallied her team, receiving a ball in the face for her efforts. She brushed that off and continued to urge her team forwards.

Oliva was sent off with a green card and this was a crucial loss to Spain as the diminutive midfielder had been at the epicentre of all Spain's attacking play.

The drama intensified as Ireland won a penalty corner in the final two minutes. Ruiz was unable to save the shot but, fortunately for the 'keeper, Gutierrez was on hand to clear the ball out.

And so to shoot out. These two teams had both won shoot outs earlier in the competition, with Spain beating Belgium and Ireland defeating India. The psychological advantage of having won a shoot out was a little nullified by the fact both teams now had knowledge of each other's shoot out tactics.

In an attempt to do the unexpected, Head Coach Shaw changed his shoot out line up and Gillian Pinder stepped up to take on Ruiz. Pinder showed nerves of steel to flick over Ruiz and get Ireland off to the best of starts.

Next up was Begona Garcia, who found herself in the unenviable position of facing the hugely talented McFerran. As so often, McFerran won out as Garcia shot wide.

O'Flanagan, Perez, and Upton all missed, but Oliva made no mistake as she shot home to bring the scores level.

Chloe Watkins put Ireland back ahead but the most audacious shoot out goal, particularly in light of the pressured situation, was scored by Lola Riera, who lobbed the ball over McFerran's head.

With the scores all equal, the match went to sudden death. McFerran pulled off a magnificent save using her stick to pull the ball out of midair and then it was all on Pinder's shoulders to put her team through to the final. As the entire stadium held its breath, Pinder coolly slotted home and Ireland were through.

"What a feeling. I didn't think this would happen. What a group of people, just shows what can happen when the right people come together. The sport has been phenomenal, people have made the journey here."

A speechless Elena Tice could only say "It was unbelievable."

"Once she gathered her composure she said: "In every single game we have battled tooth and nail. We have executed our goals when it mattered, defended our goal when it mattered. We just said in this tournament it was important that we defended from the front."

"We are a young team and we have had to learn quickly. Our forwards set the tone with their energy and our midfield team are so hard working. We are the under dog in every game and in every game it is like we have won the World Cup."

"We are going to fight tooth and nail tomorrow as well. The last bit of our soul will be out on the pitch tomorrow."

Netherlands and Australia entered their semi-final encounter undefeated with the world number one side, The Netherlands, sailing serenely through, scoring 28 goals and conceding just two. Australia (WR:5), by contrast, had won only one match in regulation time and their quarter-final match against Argentina had been won on shoot out.

But Australia are a team that will always rise to the occasion and so it proved this time. Under the cosh for much of the middle of the game, Australia have their goalkeeper Rachael Lynch to thank for the fact they were still in contention when, seven minutes from time, Georgina Morgan scored her first penalty corner goal of the competition, to send the match to shoot out.

Three penalty corners in the opening five minutes of the game was the sign that the Hockeyroos had no intention of letting the Netherlands dominate this match in the same way they had all their previous games. Unfortunately for Paul Gaudoin's side, Jodie Kenny's fearsome penalty corner strike was slightly below par and the Netherlands defence was let off the hook.

As the quarter progressed, so the Netherlands began to take the upper hand and put their opponents under increasing pressure. This was rewarded when Kelly Jonker was able to slam the ball home after some great work by Lidewij Welten to first get round the defence and then to find her team mate.

The Netherlands also had a number of penalty corner opportunities, but Caia van Maasakker's shots were all well dealt with by Rachael Lynch who, despite conceding a goal, was having a great game in the Australian goal.

The second half saw a much more even split of pressure with the Netherlands unable to extend their lead but the Hockeyroos just not able to deal a killer blow.

The equaliser came with just seven minutes left on the clock. Paul Gaudoin's team had come out for the final 15 minutes with a renewed energy and suddenly the Dutch began to look a little shaky.

Emily Hurtz was the first to rattle the Oranje although her final shot was easily dealt with by Josine Koning, who had replaced Anne Veenendaal in the Netherlands goal.

The breakthrough came when Georgina Morgan stepped up and shot home with pinpoint precision after an excellent speedy injection by Kathryn Slattery.

Lidewij Welten had a chance to make it 2-1 but, unusually for the striker, she shot wildly over the top.

In the ensuing shoot out, Frederique Matla, Xan de Waard and Welten were all on target, while only Kristina Bates was able to score for Australia.

The result means Australia will play Spain for the bronze medal, while Netherlands take on Ireland.

"The Australia goalkeeper was very good but we should have finished it in the match, we created enough chances," said Lidewij Welten.

"We weren't good enough in the circle," said Alyson Annan. "We have had to work hard to score goals in the quarter finals and semi finals but that is right.

"I just try to give the players the information to be able to play the game but our performance tonight is not good enough to win the World Cup," added the coach.

To read a preview of the final day of action at the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup, London 2018, clickhere.


Spain v Ireland 0-0 (Ireland win 3-1 on shoot out)
Netherlands v Australia 1-1 (Netherlands win 3-1 on shoot out)

Finals: Sunday 5August

14:00:Australia v Spain
16:30:Netherlands v Ireland

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