LONDON, August 8 – The first classification match of London 2012 saw Natascha Keller sign off her Olympic career with a win as Germany defeated Korea, while Japan eased ahead of South Africa courtesy of a golden goal.
An extra-time golden goal from Ai Murukami handed Japan a 2-1 win over South Africa, and ensured they equalled their ninth-place finish at Beijing 2008.
In a first half which produced little goalmouth action from either team, Japan’s best opportunity came from their first penalty corner after seven minutes. But the match stayed goalless as their captain Yukari Yamamoto could not get the deflection at the near post from Kieko Manabe’s strike.
South Africa, who finished 11th at Beijing 2008 and for the first time were not contesting the bottom classification match, broke the deadlock from their second penalty corner after 27 minutes. Kate Woods struck the ball from the top of the circle and the injector Lisa-Marie Deetlefs deflected the ball in at the near post to make it 1-0.
After Akane Shibata, Yamamoto, Aki Mitsuhashi and Sachimi Iwao all went close for Japan midway through the second half, Murukami finally scored the equaliser from a penalty corner in the 63rd minute. Her strike from the top of the circle deflected off South Africa goalkeeper Mariettte Rix’s pads and into the back of the goal.
A frenetic final few minutes followed as both teams hunted for the winner. Japan looked like they might have snatched the victory in the final minute, but the match ended goalless and extra-time followed.
With little goal action in the first part of extra-time, Japan were awarded a penalty corner in the 80th minute. Murukami’s shot deflected off a South Africa defender and a penalty stroke was awarded.
Murukami then made no mistake from the penalty spot as she scored her second goal of the game and handed her side the an overall ninth place finish.
[img_assist|nid=5590|title=Goalscorer|desc=Lisa Hahn (back) scored her 2nd goal of the Olympics to help Germany finish 7th at the expense of Korea – hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]Third-ranked Germany overcame a spirited defence by eighth-ranked Korea to win 4-1 and claim seventh place in the classification match at the Riverbank Arena on Wednesday.
Six minutes into the match Germany went ahead through Lisa Hahn after Natascha Keller, playing in her fifth and final Olympics, played the ball behind the Korea defence.
Korea responded almost immediately, equalising two minutes later from a penalty corner, Cheon Seul Ki sending her drag-flick into the back netting for her fourth goal of the tournament.
A series of Korea attacks put the German defence, and goalkeeper Yvonne Frank under pressure but despite the best efforts of Korea’s two outstanding players of the competition, Cheon and Lee Seon Ok, the pressure yielded no results.
Keller’s combination play in the midfield, working with Fanny Rinne in particular, eventually proved too strong for Korea to handle and her rebounded shot fell to Hahn who scored her second goal of the match to restore Germany’s lead.
This lead was extended in the 54th minute when captain Rinne shot home from a penalty corner, the ball helped on its way by a Korea stick.
The last minutes of the game saw Germany heap the pressure on the Korea defence and, although they had one goal disallowed, Marie Maevers was able to add a fourth with just four minutes left on the clock. A ball played through by Keller, in what was her last touch in Olympic competition, set Maevers up with just the keeper to beat.