Antwerp: World and Olympic champions The Netherlands lifted the Women's Hockey World League semifinals title trophy after rallying to prevail 2-1 over Asian Games gold-medallists South Korea in the summit clash here.
The Dutch women clinched the title through Ellen Hoog's field goal three minutes from the hooter on Saturday after the Koreans put up a good contest against the top-ranked team in the world.
The Koreans took the lead against the run of play on their first penalty corner. Captain Kim Jong-eun's penalty corner shot was deflected by a diving Kim Bo-mi past goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek in the 34th minute.
The Netherlands came back strongly, but wasted seven penalty corners before Caia van Maasakker got it right to equalise in the 44th minute. The title was still not in the Dutch grasp until Hoog shot on target in open play in the 57th minute.
World Cup silver-medallists Australia had to be satisfied with the bronze, which they secured with a 4-2 victory over New Zealand in the third-place playoff. The Kiwis had beaten Australia in their preliminary group encounter.
Australia surged into a two-goal lead by the time the game was four minutes old through Emily Smith and Jane Claxton.
Mariah Williams made it 3-0 in the 15th minute with another strike in open play, and the Black Sticks seemed out of depth despite the fine show last week.
But New Zealand fought back as Stacey Michelsen dribbled past four defenders to shoot home four minutes into the second session. Australia stretched the lead again with Georgia Nanscawen firing in the 45th minute, only for the Black Sticks to score again three minutes later through a penalty corner conversion by captain Anita Punt.
Three teams from each of the two World League Semifinal competitions will qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
Despite South Korea already having qualified as winners of the Asian Games gold medal, only the top three teams from here in Antwerp have earned their Rio de Janeiro tickets.
Germany, Great Britain and China secured the top three spots in the World League semifinals in Valencia. But Argentina, who finished fourth there, have qualified for the Olympics as the higher-ranked team from the two fourth-placed sides in the events at Valencia and Antwerp.
With five continental event champions being allowed another route, there will be several dual qualifications. In turn, that will open up Olympic spots for nations which do not make the top four of the two World League semifinals.
New Zealand will be the first choice when the countdown to qualifications start, followed by United States and India as the next teams in the waiting list....