Goalkeeper Jean-Paul Danneberg produced some incredible saves as Germany rode on Malte Hellwig’s sole strike to beat Australia 1-0 in the first leg of the Hockey Pro League in Rourkela on Saturday.
In a replay of the World Cup semi-finals that led to late heartbreak for Australia, it was Germany who came up on top once again at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium to secure all three points.
Australia started the game on the front foot with their midfield press turning possession over multiple times, but it was Germany who created the first clear opening.
It was a powerful hit by Malte Hellwig which blasted past Rennie in the Kookaburras goal and struck the top left corner of the backboard giving the world champions the lead.
Australia piled on the pressure but Germany’s defence held strong in their narrow shape inside the circle to keep Australia out as the first quarter came to an end.
Second quarter continued from where the first quarter left off as Australia continued their search for the equaliser, but Germany remained disciplined in defence.
Australia’s best chance came midway through the quarter as a cross from the right by Collins just required a touch by Ephraums in front of the goal, but the deflection by Ephraums came off his foot instead of stick.
Australia won their first penalty corner with five minutes left in the half, but Danneberg in the goal for Germany, made the save.
Jack Welch forced another save out of Danneberg with a powerful hit from the top of the circle and Hinrichs was sharp in gathering the rebound and clearing.
Germany and Australia exchanged chances early in the second half. Bosserhoff’s hit into the circle needed a slight touch from diving Kleinlein but he missed.
Australia then had a fantastic opportunity off a German turnover with Sharp getting off a shot from the top of the circle, but Ephraums attempted deflection took the ball away from the goal.
The third quarter failed to produce a goal despite the high intensity as Australia’s search for an equaliser and Germany’s search for a cushion continued into the final fifteen minutes.
Australia won a penalty corner with 10 minutes left in the game as Ephraums shot from close range was blocked by Danneberg but the ball got stuck under his leg and Australia had an opportunity.
It was Welch who took on the corner, but his shot was run down brilliantly by Tom Grambusch.
Australia won another penalty corner a few seconds later, but a fantastic double save by Danneberg continued to frustrate the Kookaburras.
Danneberg continued thwarting Australian attacks, pulling off saves from a drag flick by Gupte and a tomahawk by Marais to keep Germany ahead with 5 minutes left in the game.
With 15 seconds left in the game Australia mustered one final chance through a penalty corner, but Danneberg saved again and earned Germany a win and all three points.
Australia will play India on Sunday, while Germany will take on the hosts on Monday.