Netherlands retain women's hockey title

Last updated 09:34 11/08/2012

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The Netherlands retained its women's Olympic field hockey title by controlling the second half to beat world champion Argentina 2-0 at Riverbank Arena.

The Dutch scored off two penalty corners after the break to join Australia as the only three-time Olympic champions.

At the final whistle, the Dutch celebrated with a mass hug in their circle after shutting down one final Argentina attack.

Winners of all seven of their games, they gave the Dutch men's team extra incentive to record the first-ever Olympic double when it meets Germany in that final on Saturday.

The women's final between the world's best two teams was riveting for being tight rather than breathtaking until Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel scored from a rebound off Eva de Goede's corner in the 40th minute.

Then the Dutch turned rampant, and after captain Maartje Paumen had a corner saved in the 53rd for the second time, the specialist didn't miss her next chance a minute later.

Paumen's penalty corner stuttered throughout the tournament, but came good when it mattered. She scored two in the semifinal and her final goal brought her Olympic tally overall to a record 14.

Argentina's storied captain, Luciana Aymar, lived up to her reputation as the best player in the game, but couldn't celebrate her 35th birthday by leading her team to victory in her last match before retirement.

The Dutch have been the bane of Argentina at the Olympics. Las Leonas, as the Argentina team is known, lost to the Netherlands in the 2004 and 2008 semifinals and finished with bronze medals, to go with their silver in 2000.

The Netherlands played the majority of the match pressing in Argentine territory while Las Leonas attempted to hit on the counterattack.

The Dutch twice missed chances in goalmouth scrambles in the first three minutes.

Then Argentina's corner specialist Noel Barrionuevo sent her first effort wide left in the 9th, and Dutch goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek saved a low backhand shot from Aymar after her 35-meter run.

The match paused when Mariela Scarone was hit under the left eye by the stick of Ellen Hoog, who also hit New Zealander Katie Glynn in the head in the semifinals. Scarone, with a towel staunching the flow of blood from a cut under her eye, walked off but returned in the second half.

Dirkse van den Heuvel finally broke the deadlock smashing in the corner rebound on the volley.

Argentina had a second corner soon after, but Silvina D'Elia was saved.

Paumen's second corner, after giving two attempts to De Goede, was saved again, but another chance straight away was a chance too many for Argentina, and Paumen flicked it home high and to the right.

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With the two-goal cushion, the Dutch controlled the last 16 minutes to ease to victory.

- Reuters

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