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Great Britain beat defending champions the Netherlands to take home their first Olympic gold medal in women's hockey, winning a tense shootout following a 3-3 draw, as Germany took bronze over New Zealand.
A boisterous British tackle and ensuing penalty flick gave Dutch captain Maartje Paumen an early chance to score, but her shot was batted aside by British keeper Maddie Hinch. Britain’s Lily Owsley claimed the first score of the night, emerging victorious from a scramble in front of the Dutch goal to put her side 1-0 ahead.
A Dutch equaliser came courtesy of forward Kitty van Male who broke away for a one-on-one with the British keeper, skilfully drawing her aside and putting the ball into the top of the net with an audacious reverse stick sweep. The Dutch went 2-1 up through Paumen, but Britain’s Crista Cullen equalised seconds later to make it 2-2 going into the break.
Both teams netted one each after a series of penalty corners, leaving the score deadlocked at 3-3 on the final whistle and forcing a shootout to decide the match. Of the 10 goals available, only two were scored. Britain's Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb found the back of net to secure victory and their team's first Olympic gold medals.
“I don’t think I can really put it into words yet. It hasn't really sunk in. I don’t really know what’s happened. I’m just so proud of all the girls that played tonight,” said Webb. “It’s more than just this gold medal. If that just inspired anyone to pick up a hockey stick, any age, any gender, anyone who can get involved, then our job has been done.”
The Dutch captain Maartej Paumen was disappointed after the defeat: “I think we played a really good game. We controlled the whole game. We created a lot of chances and to end with silver, it’s not what we came for. “
After topping the podium in Beijing and London, the Netherlands were hot favourites going into the Rio Games. Despite winning every game to finish top of their group, the top-ranked Dutch team only scraped into the final after beating Germany 4-3 in a shootout following a 1-1 draw. Britain also finished the group stages with a perfect record and were going for gold in their first Olympic final having won bronze four years ago in London.
Germany beat New Zealand 2-1 to take the bronze medal. Despite having 16 shots on goal to Germany’s five, the New Zealand were outplayed by their opponents, who were more lively and more clinical in and around the attacking circle.
Charlotte Stapenhorst opened the scoring for Germany early in the third quarter before Lisa Schutze doubled their lead four minutes later, when she showed terrific control and patience with the ball in the attacking circle before shooting over three stumbling New Zealand players.
Olivia Merry scored from a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter, but they were not able to find the equaliser, as Germany defended resolutely, without taking a shot on goal in the final quarter.
Shutze, who scored Germany’s winning goal, said: “We can’t believe it. I think maybe we will realise what we’ve achieved when we are on the stage and get our medals. It’s such an amazing feeling. It was cool that I could help my team with my goal, but the most amazing thing for me was the whistle, when it ended. I think this was the best moment.”