BHUBANESWAR: Belgium defeated Netherlands 3-2 on penalties in the final of the Hockey World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar to lift the prestigious trophy. It was the first time ever that a medal match at a Hockey World Cup finished without a goal in four quarters. The game went into a penalty shootout which ended 2-2 after five penalties each. Belgium then scored the decisive goal in sudden death to script history on a memorable night. It was a dramatic night in Bhubaneshwar as Belgium came looking for their maiden title. After an absorbing contest, it was a thrilling end to the summit clash with Belgium scoring in sudden death to script history. Netherlands enjoyed a splendid 3-0 record over Belgium in World Cups but they lost in their most important game against them. Netherlands had headed into the summit clash after edging out Australia 4-3 on penalties in the semi-final. The match ended in 2-2 after which it was Goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak who kept them in the game with some amazing work between the sticks. However, Netherlands failed to keep their nerves on the night of the final to see the cup slip away from their hands.They showed great resilience to play out a goalless draw and keep Netherlands away from scoring before winning it in the sudden death. It was a historic day for Belgium Hockey as they registered their second biggest win after Rio Olympics silver feat. It was an intense battle in the midfield between the two sides but both the teams failed to convert the chances in the oponnent boxes. Belgium defended well but failed to win any penalty corners in the game. Belgium skipper Thomas Briels came close to scoring the winner in the final quarter but his effort was saved by Netherlands goalkeeper Blaak. Belgium pressed hard in the fianl few minutes but failed to find the winner but eventually delivered when it mattered the most — sudden death. Published in Daily Times, December 17th2018.