By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) -Australia set up a showdown with Belgium in the men's hockey final at the Tokyo Olympics after handing 2016 Olympic bronze medallists Germany a 3-1 defeat on Tuesday.
Young forward Tim Brand opened the scoring for Australia with a seventh-minute goal when he pushed in a low shot from team mate Flynn Ogilvie that crossed the striking circle.
Germany made the most of a penalty corner when Lukas Windfeder flicked the ball into the goal, but that was not enough to keep the dominant Kookaburras at bay.
Blake Govers gave Australia the lead shortly before the halftime break and Lachlan Sharp sealed the win late in the second half.
Australia and world champions Belgium will play their gold medal match on Thursday, while India and Germany will battle for bronze.
Belgium's Red Lions beat India 5-2 earlier on Tuesday.
"We're very proud for making the finals, but the last step is yet to be made," Belgium captain Felix Denayer said.
"We would really love to play our best hockey at the end."
They needed less than two minutes to get the opening goal when defender Loick Luypaert scored off a penalty corner.
Eight-times Olympic champions India, who last claimed https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-hoc-idCNL8N2P94DN the top prize at the 1980 Moscow Games, went ahead through goals from Harmanpreet Singh and striker Mandeep Singh.
But Belgium always believed they could make it to the final, said Alexander Hendrickx, who is the top scorer at the Tokyo tournament.
"In the end, the opportunities that we created were enough to win the game," said Hendrickx, who made the equaliser off a penalty corner halfway through the second quarter.
With 11 minutes left, Hendrickx again lived up to his reputation as a superb drag-flicker by scoring off a penalty corner to put Belgium 3-2 ahead.
Hendrickx, who played with a bandage around his head to protect a wound https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/hockey-top-scorer-hendrickx-roars-back-after-six-stitches-harry-potter-like-cut-2021-08-01 on his forehead, completed his hat-trick by scoring a penalty stroke and veteran John-John Dohmen added another goal in the final minute.
The outcome was heartbreaking for India, experienced defender Rupinder Pal Singh said.
"We were here to win a gold medal. That was our aim, but we lost today," said Singh.
"The great thing is we have a chance to finish third in the next game so we will focus on that."
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Ed Osmond)