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Germany claim shock hockey victory

• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Outsiders Germany won their first Olympic women's hockey gold, beating the Netherlands 2-1 to their own shock and disbelief.

Germany, ranked seventh at the start of the Athens Games, were surprised enough to get into the finals and coach Markus Weise had said he did not mind if they "lost 7-0 because at least we have a medal."

That attitude had disappeared by Thursday. "We were relaxed because we were the underdogs," Weise said. "The pressure was entirely on the Dutch team."

Within five minutes, Germany had forced a penalty corner which Anke Kuehn slapped in with a low, hard drag flick. The second goal soon followed from a Franziska Gude reverse stick slam.

The Netherlands, who had not dropped a game so far at the Olympics, fought back and dominated ball possession in the second half. But they could only convert one short corner before the German defence regrouped and squeezed them out.

As the final hooter went, the disbelieving Germans threw their sticks into the air and jumped into each others arms while the Dutch collapsed on the pitch in floods of tears, some of them arguing with each other.

"It's unbelievable," beamed Denise Klecker. "We were a bit nervous when they came back in the second half but we just tried to keep the ball. In the end we won the gold. It's amazing."

Germany won the Olympic silver medal in 1984 and again in 1992 but their form had slipped in recent years and had still been patchy during the Athens Games.

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