RIO DE JANEIRO: The Netherlands stayed on course for a third successive Olympics women’s hockey gold medal by downing Germany in a dramatic shoot-out on Wednesday.
With the score tied at 1-1 at the end of normal time, the Dutch edged the shoot-out 4-3 and will face Britain for the gold medal.
The British reached the Olympic final for the first time with a 3-0 win over New Zealand in a bruising duel.
Ellen Hoog scored the winning goal for the Dutch in their shoot-out triumph.
“At first I had some doubts because I missed the first shot, but I trust in my own shoot-outs so I thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to miss it twice’,” said Hoog who missed her first attempt.
“So I trust and I felt that the team trusted me as well, but after I scored it, I don’t know what was going on. The most feeling I think is relief. Just relief that we won today.”
Lisa Altenburg, who was responsible for missing one of Germany’s four shoot-out attempts, said: “My penalty shot wasn’t that good, so in the end it’s shit.”
Germany were the last team to defeat the Netherlands at the Olympics on their way to the 2004 title.
They looked on the cards to repeat that when Lisa Schutze gave them an 11th-minute lead with a penalty corner.
But Dutch skipper Maartje Pauman levelled also from the set piece five minutes later.
Pauman took her Olympics goal-scoring record to 18 overall and four in Rio.
The victory gives Alyson Annan, the Australian coach of the Dutch team, the chance to become only the second woman coach to win an Olympic title.
The only woman to achieve that distinction was Anthea Stewart who led Zimbabwe to gold at the boycotted 1980 Games in Moscow.
Annan won two golds as a player with Australia in 1996 and 2000.
In the second semi-final, Britain took a first half lead in scrappy circumstances.
Kiwi keeper Sally Rutherford kept out a penalty corner but Alex Danson, with more than 250 international caps, bundled the ball in off the arm of a defender.
The New Zealanders then self-destructed late in the game, giving away two penalties in quick succession.
First, Kayla Whitelock brought down Helen Richardson-Walsh and was yellow carded.
Richardson-Walsh dusted herself down to score her team’s second goal.
Then Lily Owsley was fouled by Liz Thompson and Danson slotted home the penalty.
Win or lose on Friday, Britain are assured of their best Olympic finish having only won two bronze medals at previous Games.