Hockey World Cup 2018, Belgium vs Netherlands: 3 Standout Players from the Final
After more than two weeks of intense action, the 2018 Hockey World Cup reached a befitting conclusion with a pulsating final at the Kalinga Stadium. Following a goalless sixty minutes of engrossing defensive skills in regulation time, Belgium defeated Netherlands 3-2 in a thrilling penalty shootout and clinched their maiden World Cup title.
With neither team willing to give an inch, the title clash produced four quarters of end-to-end stuff. Although both sides came close to breaking the deadlock, the tenacity of the defenders ensured that the World Cup was decided by a shootout.
Despite gaining an early advantage in the shootout, Netherlands began to buckle under stifling pressure. There was added drama as Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak expertly used the Review System to take it to sudden death.
With Florent van Aubel scoring, the onus was on Jeroen Hertzberger to keep the Netherlands in the game. However, the experienced striker sent the ball high and wide. Consequently, Belgium attained their moment of glory in Bhubaneswar.
Here are the three standout players from the riveting final between Belgium and Netherlands.
#3 Billy Bakker (Netherlands)
Leading from the front in such a high-pressure game, Billy Bakker worked tirelessly and tried his valiant best to create scoring opportunities for his strikers. The veteran midfielder controlled the flow for his team in such a manner that they were able to switch from attack to defence in a seamless manner.
Bakker was at his enterprising best during the first quarter. He demonstrated his ability to cover a significant distance by cutting through the Belgian defence. However, his productive work did not yield any goals for the Dutch.
As the game progressed, Bakker took on a slightly defensive role in order to prevent the Red Lions from constructing dangerous passes. For the Netherlands, their captain was unarguably the standout player in regulation time.