24/05/2024
Australia Belgium Hockey

Australia and Belgium battled it our for gold at Oi Hockey Stadium. Photo: Australian Olympic Team - Twitter

Australia has brought home silver in the men's hockey at Tokyo 2020. See how the action went down.

In a match that went down to the wire, Belgium defeated Australia to come away gold medalists in the men’s hockey at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

Throughout the match, Belgium looked more composed and had the ball in possession more than Australia, but it was a moment of clever play and class that got the final score to 1-1 at the end of regular play.

For five years, Australia (No. 1) and Belgium (No.2) have been battling it out for the top spot, with tonight’s gold medal match determining who is the best once and for all.

There’s very little that separates the two sides, from their group stage records (both finished first of their pool with four wins and a draw) to personnel on their teams.

Despite being ranked first (Australia) and second (Belgium) in the FIH rankings, the two sides have not met each other in a final since the 2019 FIH Pro League season.  

Tonight, the highest Olympic honour was awarded to Belgium after overcoming Australia, who refused to back down, even in its final shot of the shoot-off.

While the first half of the hockey final was scoreless, it belonged to Belgium, who took advantage of and seemed to execute attacking opportunities more confidently than Australia. It had seven shots on goal, eight circle penetrations, and had a 53 per cent possession rate.

On the other hand, Australia had just one shot on goal and four circle penetrations, holding the ball 47 per cent of the half.

These statistics are merely a tell-tale sign of the quality of the two sides, who were the top two offensive and defensive sides in Tokyo 2020.

The tournament’s top goal scorer Alex Hendrickx was restricted to just two shots on goal, while the runner-up, Blake Govers was kept unusually quiet with zero.

Leading the shots count was Antoine Kina with three, while Sebastien Dockier, Cedric Charlier (BEL), and Tom Wickham (AUS) had one each.

Additionally, Belgium could not convert the two penalty corners that came late in the second quarter.

With Belgium slipping through Australia’s defence, goalkeeper Andrew Charter was composed in the face of rapid-fire, saving all four of the shots sent heading in his direction.

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Before halftime, Belgium’s attack looked composed and ready to break the game open at any time, and so they did two minutes into the second half.

Florent van Aubel opened the scoring, evading Charter and sending a pass from Nicolas de Kerpel to the back of the net.  

https://twitter.com/7olympics/status/1423234582195884032

Two opportunities came for Australia in the quarter. Aran Zalewski attempted to equalise, but was thwarted by the post, and penalty corner which was saved by Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.

Australia knew they had to score to keep their goal medal dreams alive, and so they did early in the final term.

Zalewski and Flynn Ogilvie battled their way through Belgium’s wall-like defence, sending the ball through the air, which Tom Wickham reached for and guided into an open goal.

https://twitter.com/7olympics/status/1423238965197516805

Chances came for both sides, but none were enough to seal the game, sending it to a shoot-out that was drama-filled, to say the least.

Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and unfortunately, the shoot-out was not enough to get Australia over the line this time around.

Doom was spelled out early for the Kookaburras when Blake Govers, missed the first shot.

Belgium’s Florent Van Aubel surpassed Andrew Charter, and from there, it was playing catch up for the Aussie, and any other mistake would be costly.

Luckily, Flynn Ogilvie capitalised, as did Tim Brand, but so did Arthur de Sloover. In Belgium’s third shot, Felix Denayer had his shot denied and it was neck and neck once again.

Joshua Simmonds took aim but misfired, and suddenly the pressure was on again as an intentional foul from Andrew Charter on Victor Wegnez resulted in a penalty shot, which Alex Hendrickx capitalised on.

The pressure was on for Jacob Whetton, who was blessed with a second chance after an infringement in his first shot was found in a video referral. Unfortunately for Australia, he failed to fire, and Belgium was rewarded for their precision under pressure with an Olympic gold medallist.

https://twitter.com/7olympics/status/1423247283290787846

Despite losing to Belgium, Australia, will not go home empty-handed after their sensational efforts in the men’s hockey. Qualifying and playing in this match guaranteed them a silver medal in the event they lost.

And now the hockey community has an answer as to which side is truly the undisputed number one.

https://twitter.com/7olympics/status/1423254343239847941

Final Score: AUS 1(2) – BEL 1(3)

Australia goals: Wickham (Ogilvie, Brand)

Belgium goals: van Aubel (van Aubel, de Sloover, Hendrickx)

Final results

Gold: Belgium

Silver: Australia

Bronze: India

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