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Kookaburras defeat Netherlands, hockey quarter-finals, Australia

The Kookaburras’ quest for gold is one step closer after advancing to the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a tense quarter-final that they twice threatened to throw away after blowing leads.

Gold medal favourites, the Australians led 1-0 and then 2-1 but a dogged Netherlands side twice hit back to level, the full-time hooter going with the match all square at 2-2.

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There is no extra time in Olympic hockey, which meant Australia’s tournament hung on a penalty shootout, a cutthroat method to determine a winner.

However once there, the Kookaburras were ice cold in their execution, delivering the perfect shootout with three goals and three saves to advance to the semi-finals and a guaranteed shot at a medal.

It was all the sweeter due to the history between these great hockey nations. Five years after losing to the Netherlands during the quarter-finals of the Rio Games, the Kookaburras got their redemption.

Kookaburras goalkeeper Andrew Charter stepped up and became the hero during the penalty shootout as the Dutch failed to find the net on their first three attempts.

Charter’s heroics were backed up by trio Blake Govers, Flynn Ogilvie and Tim Brand, who each scored to send Australia through to the semi-finals where they will face Germany vying for the chance to play for a gold medal.

“Absolutely amazing to get into a semi-final at the Olympics … it wasn’t our best game but we grinded for that one,” Brand said.

“And we’ve been practising shootouts for a long time after the World Cup three years ago, so to get a win there was very pleasing.”

Australian coach Colin Batch lauded the effort of his goalkeeper but admits the Aussies now face a big challenge against Germany, who earlier today defeated Argentina 3-1.

“He’s a very experienced goalkeeper and plays big in big occasions,” Batch said of the Charter.

“We believe we have a number of ways of playing and tactically we’ve held up over the last couple of years. But it’s a huge challenge ahead of us now, the Germans.”

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