BHUBANESWAR, India: Goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch helped Belgium to their maiden field hockey World Cup title after edging out the Netherlands 3-2 in a dramatic penalty shoot out that went to sudden death on Sunday (Dec 16).
Belgium held their nerve until the end of four quarters - with the score level at 0-0 - and then again through the penalty shootout as each team converted two of their five shots in the east Indian city of Bhubaneswar.
In sudden death Belgium's Florent van Aubel - shooting first - scored what turned out to be the winner, with the Dutch missing their chance to save the match at the packed stadium in the state of Odisha.
However world number three Belgium narrowly missed out on securing victory earlier in the shootout after Arthur de Sloover scored their fifth and final penalty shot - only to have it disallowed.
Replays - prompted by a Dutch request - suggested the ball had hit the foot of de Sloover before he found the back of the net.
"We have such a good team. I said it: we are going to win it. Always tough against the Netherlands, but it is a beautiful end for us," a delighted Vanasch said after the win.
"I was quite excited (before the shoot out) for sure. We trained really well for shoot outs... We have really good shooters as well, that's the strength of Belgium," added Vanasch, who was named man of the match for his excellent saves throughout the match.
Olympic silver medallists Belgium, who avenged their EuroHockey Nations Championship final loss to the Netherlands last year, became the sixth nation to lift the World Cup trophy since its inception in 1971.
Belgium's previous best performance in the World Cup was a fifth-place finish in the last edition of the tournament in The Hague, Netherlands in 2014.
Netherlands, who missed out on what could have been a record-equalling fourth title along with Pakistan, had their chances but failed to break through a tough Belgium defence.
They had two penalty corners in the match but the Red Lions defended them successfully.
Earlier Tom Craig scored a hat-trick of goals to lead Australia's 8-1 thrashing of England in the third-place play-off as the Kookaburras took a consolation bronze.
Blake Govers gave Australia, who lost the semifinal to the Netherlands and a chance to win three successive World Cup titles, an early lead in the eighth minute.
Jeremy Hayward also pumped in two goals through penalty corner conversions to completely deflate England, whose defence wilted under pressure.
Govers ended as the tournament's joint leading goalscorer alongside Belgian defender Alexander Hendrickx with seven goals each in the 16-team tournament.
Hosts India finished sixth after losing their quarter-final against the Netherlands 1-2.