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Germany overcome fighting New Zealand 5-2

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, March 9 (IANS) - Defending champions Germany withstood a strong New Zeland fightback before scoring a 5-2 victory, and booking a semifinal berth from Pool A at the Hockey World Cup here today.

Germany went 2-0 up in the first half, courtsey Christoph Menke's (15th minute) acrobatic slide and Florian Fuchs' (22nd) penalty corner conversion. They pumped in one more through Philip Witte's 47th minute strike before New Zealand gave them a scare with two goals in the space of three minutes. Shea McAleese (51st) converted a short corner and Nicholas Wilson (54th) brought New Zealand back in the game.

But Germany converted their last two penalty corners through Moritz Furste (63rd) and Matthias Witthaus (64th) to put it beyond New Zealand.

Germany, who were held to a draw by Korea and the Netherlands, finished their league engagement with 11 points in five matches, with three wins. They qualified for the semifinals for a record 11th time. The only time they missed the semifinal spot was in 1971.

Germany have won all their five World Cup encounters against New Zealand.

After New Zealand goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex twice denied Germany, Menke and Fuchs combined for a brilliant execution.

Promising striker Fuchs did the spadework from the left and passed the ball in the open and Menke running parallel to him, dived full stretch to spoon the ball high into the New Zealand goal.

Fuchs scored his fourth goal in the tournament when he sent in a rebound that came off Pontifex's stick off a penalty corner.

Germany had better ball posession in the first half and built up some good moves. They kept up the tempo in the second half, though they could not convert the chances.

Germany went 3-0 up with another deflection, this time by Witte, taking advantage of a Jan Philipp Rabente's cross from the top of the circle.

New Zealand throbbed back to life with some excellent moves, taking advantage of the complacent German team.

"After we were ahead 3-0, we became casual and our game dropped down by 20 per cent, which allowed them to comeback. But we came back well to win the match by a decent margin," said Germany's captain Maximilian Muller.

McAleese deflected a drag flick from Andrew Hayward to open New Zealand's scoring. Wilson then showed fine ball control to breach the German defence, outpacing two defenders and dribbled goalkeeper Pontifex to slam home.

With scoreline reading 3-2, Germans pulled up their socks as an adverse result would have made them dependent on the other pool match-' result for a semifinal berth.

The Germans tightened the defence before scoring two more goals.

The fourth goal was a great exhibition of a set-piece conversion. Jan-Marco Montag stopped the ball and beautifully set it for Furste, who pushed it in.

A minute later, Witthaus scored from a rebound off a penalty corner to put it beyond New Zealand.

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