This photo might make you think Germany got things horribly wrong in its semi-final against Australia, but there’s a logical explanation.
A desperate Germany tried everything to keep its Olympic campaign alive but the Kookaburras weren’t about to break Australian hearts for the second day in a row.
After the Hockeyroos suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to India in the quarterfinals, our medal hopes rested with the men’s team and it delivered to beat the Germans 3-1 in a nail-biting semi-final and advance to Thursday’s decider.
Up 2-1 as full-time approached, Australia tried to wind down the clock and keep possession to ensure Germany didn’t receive one last roll of the dice. The Europeans were willing to go rogue though, and with three minutes and 16 seconds left in the match, made the bold move to replace their goalkeeper Alexander Stadler with a field player.
The Germans left the net unguarded for the final minutes, prepared to risk conceding the goal that would put the result beyond doubt so they could launch one final all-out attacking assault.
By trading in a field player for Stadler, it meant Germany had a one-man advantage in general play — something it hoped would make it easier to crack open the Aussie defence and poach the equaliser it needed to keep its gold medal hopes alive.
Thankfully for the Kookaburras, the gamble didn’t pay off. With just over 90 seconds remaining, Lachlan Sharp tapped home into the Germans’ empty net to seal a 3-1 win that sees his side play Belgium – who won silver in Rio five years ago – in the final.
Australia has earned its way to the final match of the tournament by beating some of the world’s best teams, including world No. 6 Germany and world No. 3 Holland in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.
It doesn’t get any easier against the No. 2 ranked Belgium on Thursday night.
“Amazing feeling. I’m a bit lost for words at the moment, kind of just taking it all in,” Lachlan Sharp said after the match.
“We work so hard for moments like these. To win an Olympic semi-final, one more (win) to go, can’t get any better.
“I think our work rate is top class here. We worked so hard in the lead-up to this with heat training, etc, to get us here. For the boys to work hard, for each other, I think in the end it was really good.”
Fellow Kookaburras star Aran Zalewski added: “Germany had a really, really good game as well. I think some of our defensive work was top notch and some of the guys played really well.
“It was a full, collective effort today. We finished our chances and denied them as best we could. Really happy with the result.
“Not every game’s going to be your way. When you’re leading like that it seems to be the pressure’s on you and the other team’s got nothing to lose, so they come at you full gas.
“The boys held really strong. It was a great evening and great to get the result we wanted tonight.”