Germany win third hockey world cup after penalty shootout against Belgium

Germany's players pose with the trophy after winning the FIH men's Hockey World Cup 2023 final match against Belgium. Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty images

Germany ended Belgium's dominance in global hockey in the last five years as they made yet another stunning comeback from a two-goal deficit to beat the defending champions via penalty shootout to win the FIH Hockey Men's World Cup for a third time on Sunday.

The two sides were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time of the thrilling final before Germany eventually won 5-4 in sudden death in front of a packed Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Niklas Wellen (29th), Gonzalo Peillat (41st) and captain Mats Grambusch (48th) scored for Germany in regulation time while Florent van Aubel (10th), Tanguy Cosyns (11th) and Tom Boon (59th) found the target for Belgium.

This was the third time in the tournament that Germany had won after trailing 0-2 and their never-say-die attitude came to the fore once more as they denied the Belgians in defending their title.

Germany joined Australia and Netherlands as the only teams to have won the World Cup title three times. Their earlier triumphs had come in 2002 and 2006. Only Pakistan have won the event four times.

Prior to the final, German head coach Andre Henning noted that his side were focused on their defence but a two-minute Belgium blitzkrieg in the first quarter of the final left them in a daze.

Van Aubel gave Belgium the lead in the 10th minute, leaping in the air and smashing a deflection down into the German goal. Even before the packed crowd had barely settled down after the first goal, Cosyns made it 2-0 as he got down on his knees and tapped in a Antoine Kina cross from the left.

Belgium could have been 3-0 up in the first minute of the second quarter but for German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler, who brilliantly palmed away Gauthier Boccard's effort from a penalty corner variation.

Germany had a golden chance to pull one back in the 19th minute but Tom Grambusch missed a penalty stroke with Vincent Vanasch making a stunning save. Considered the best goalkeeper in the world, the 35-year-old Vanasch correctly predicted Grambusch's powerful shot directed at the right top corner. The ball deflected from Vanasch's stick and hit the post.

However, ther Germans reduced the deficit two minutes before half-time as Wellen struck from a penalty corner variation.

Trailing 1-2 at half time, Germany had a chance to restore parity in the 40th minute when Hannes Muller's shot was deflected towards the Belgium goal by Marco Miltkau but an alert Vanasch padded it away to safety.

The Germans kept on pressing and got the equaliser in the 41st minute when penalty corner expert Peillat, who had scored a hat-trick in the semifinals, sounded the board to make the scoreline 2-2.

The match then turned on its head as captain Mats Grambusch gave Germany the lead for the first time in the match three minutes into the fourth quarter after an exchange of passes with Thies Prinz.

Prinz sent a defence-splitting pass after receiving the ball from Grambusch and it looked like that the German captain would not able to reach the ball. But Grambusch pulled off a smashing reverse hit which went through the legs of Vanasch into the German goal to make it 3-2 to Germany.

However, just two minutes before the final hooter, Belgium earned a penalty corner, with Tom Boon converting, forcing the final into a penalty shootout. Jean-Paul Danneberg replaced Stadler in the German goal and produced a fine performance, denying Arthur de Sloover and Victor Wegnez. Vanasch returned the favour, saving Miltkau and Grambusch's efforts - the latter keeping Belgium in the tie as both teams went into sudden death.

Wellen, Van Aubel and Thies Prinz all scored, leaving Cosyns facing Danneberg in the decisive penalty, which the German keeper swatted away, sparking scenes of wild celebration as they lifted their first World Cup since 2006.