'We never give up' - Germany fights back to overcome Belgium to win hockey 2023 World Cup

German players celebrate with the winners trophy after their win over Belgium in the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup finals at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. - AP

BHUBANESWAR, India, Jan 29, 2023 (AFP): Germany came from 2-0 behind to overcome defending champions Belgium and win the hockey World Cup on Sunday night (Jan 29) in a dramatic see-saw final ending in a sudden death shootout.

Belgium went ahead in the first quarter in Bhubaneswar, India with Florent Van Aubel collecting the ball after a deflection and smashing it powerfully into the backboard.

Moments later Tanguy Cosyns doubled Belgium's lead, collecting a neat cross in front of the German goal for an easy tap-in. Germany reviewed the goal decision but it stood.

Early in the second quarter Belgium's keeper Vincent Vanasch saved a penalty stroke but just before half-time Niklas Wellen got one back for Germany.

Germany then scored through Gonzalo Peillat to make it 2-2 and in the final period captain Mats Grambusch squeezed a shot between Vanasch's legs to go ahead 3-2.

But with under two minutes remaining, Belgium's Tom Boon equalised from a penalty corner, taking the game into a shootout. This went to sudden death and Germany won 5-4.

Belgium "is a world-class team... They have so much quality. We knew it would be a huge clash against them," Wellen, named player of the match, said afterwards.

"If you come back from two goals down three times in a row, it's not luck. It's our quality, it's our mentality. And we showed that again today," he said.

Belgium hockey's golden generation were hoping to win their second World Cup in a row, after cruising into the final despite having the tournament's oldest side.

Their passage to the final included a shootout victory over the Netherlands in the semi-finals and a 2-0 thumping of New Zealand in the quarters. On their way to the final Germany beat England and then Australia.

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