Netherlands maintained their 100 percent winning record in the 2014 Hockey World Cup, beating Olympic champions Germany 1-0 at the Kyocera Stadium, while Argentina broke New Zealand's unbeaten streak to register their second win in the tournament at The Hague on Friday.
The much anticipated clash between European giants Netherlands and Germany witnessed high quality action. The Dutch set the tone when they came close to scoring in the first five minutes, but were denied by German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi.
The hosts kept pressing for the opener, but the German defence led by skipper Maximilian Muller kept them at bay until the 18th minute. Jeroen Hertzberger broke the deadlock in the 19th minute for Netherlands and it was the only time the ball found back of the net.
Jelle Galema rushed into the German circle from the right flank and passed the ball to Hertzberger, who made no mistake in firing home the winner. Robbert Kemperman almost doubled the lead in the 32nd minute, when Sander Baart sliced past the German defence, but Jacobi made a top save.
Both teams played with blistering speed in the final 15 minutes, with Benjamin Wess and Benedict Furks missed a number of opportunities for Germany. In the dying moments Germany got a golden opportunity to equalise through a penalty corner, but the ball went wide.
"It was a tough game," said German coach Markus Weise. "We needed to create chances, which we did. We had penalty corners, which we failed to convert. I am not going to find a tree and hang myself."
"We have to rely on other results and that is never good," Weise added about Germany's chances of qualifying for the semis. "We are going to focus on the things we can influence."
Meanwhile, the Black Sticks faced their first defeat in the tournament against Argentina 3-1 at the Kyocera Stadium on Friday. Both Argentina and New Zealand are tied at six points apiece in the Pool B, although the Black Sticks hold an edge because of a better goal difference.
Argentina were powered by a second-half hat-trick from Gonzalo Peiillat, who converted three penalty corners. After going down 1-0 early in the second-half, New Zealand scored the equaliser through Stephen Jenness, but Peiillat scored two more for Argentina to close out any chance of a Kiwi comeback.
"If you look at the facts they scored three of four penalty corners and we got none out of three, so obviously the game was won in those areas," head coach Colin Batch said. "We feel a bit disappointed in our final 15 minutes we got to 1-1 and then pushed for a victory but unfortunately conceded two more penalty corner goals."
In another Pool B match, Lee Myungho saved South Korea's blushes with a few smart saves against South Africa in a game which ended 0-0 at the GreenFields Stadium. The result gave them their first point in the tournament.
Both team played a dull first half, as Myungho and South Africa goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse were not tested in the first 35 minutes. South Africa looked a better team in the second half, but they were not able to score the winner. Korea also missed a couple of opportunities, as both teams settled for a goalless draw.
"We were so close, we hung in the game and we stuck to the game plan, I'm really proud of the boys for the way we have come back after the first two games," South Africa skipper Austin Smith said. "What a pity that we couldn't get the result at the death."