British are humiliated as Bakker leads Dutch on a nine-goal rampage


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The Independent Online

The Dutch haven't actually invented the term yet but it was nothing less than totaalhockey, a punishing brand of attacking play which blew away four years of planning for British men's hockey at a stroke last night. Jason Lee's side had been watching a film called "Miracle" before this tournament: they cannot have known quite how much they would need one as they pursued their first Olympic final place in nearly 25 years.

It was over by half-time, with Dutch destroyer-in-chief Billy Bakker launching himself on a 22-minute hat-trick. Lee's side turned round 4-1 behind and seeking a respectability they never found.

The disappointment etched on the GB players' faces last night was all the greater because of Germany's remarkable afternoon 4-2 win over the world champions, Australia.

Lee's players knew that Paul van Ass's side, the only one to emerge from the group stage with a 100 per cent record, would be formidable. British tactics talk had hinted at a defensive strategy: throttling the life out of the Dutch and hitting them with a fast counter-attacking game. Instead the game took a diametrically opposite flow: the Dutch pressed with such a high line that Britain could barely emerge from their own quarters, and produced an error strewn-mess of lost possession whenever they did.

The Dutch nation has become entranced by the progress of their teams: two million people watched the women progress to their final today against Argentina.

The tone was set from the minute that Iain Lewers was caught in possession as he tried to advance through midfield and the Dutch pounced. Ben Hawes rescued him, though Roderick Weusthof sent the Dutch on the way with a penalty flick in only the eighth minute. He doubled it within five minutes when Britain's lax defending allowed him to latch on to the ball after a confused Dutch short corner.

Ashley Jackson provided a brief flicker of hope with a coolly converted corner flick, his sixth goal of this tournament, after Harry Martin's fine attacking run into the area. But soon Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty of his own, and the contest was killed barely beyond the half-hour when a four-man, one-touch move delivered the ball to Bakker to open his night's account.

Lee's men briefly rallied after a half-time talk which wouldn't bear thinking about. But Bakker and Co were not to be denied Britain's biggest defeat by the Dutch and Rob Moore's late goal, after diving impressively to divert a Hawes sharp cross into the net, was no consolation. More bad news: the bruised Aussies lie in wait.