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Asian Games 2018
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Asiad Japan: Mother all comebacks? (9/8/2018)
--Errol D’Cruz
Japan's victory over Malaysia in the 2018 Asian Games men's hockey final could go well with a motivational speech on never giving in.

The humdinger at the GBK Complex in Jakarta last Saturday wouldn't be one if the Japanese hadn't shown determination and fortitude. A fiery resolve backed by fitness, technical ability and spirit that seemed to emerge from the realm of fantasy.

Japan beat higher-ranked Malaysia after fighting back from 1-4 and 2-5 to level at 5-5 with just eight minutes to go. And again, from 5-6 to 6-6 with less than two minutes remaining to take the encounter into a shootout and win their first-ever gold medal. It could well be called the mother of all comebacks in the history of the game.

The encounter inspired memories of at least three other grand finales that went all the way to the shootout (pure penalty strokes in those days).

Netherlands vs India, World Cup final, Amstelveen, 1973:

In another protracted battle that went into the tie-breaker in the days of extra-time, India went down to the hosts Netherlands after leading 2-0 with the match not quite six minutes old.

Surjit Singh struck home two penalty corners. However, the Dutch fought back to reduce the margin via a penalty stroke before halftime before equalizing eight minutes into the second half -- both goals coming from the blade of Ties Kruize.

The packed Wagner Stadium froze in golden goal extra-time when India won a penalty stroke. But Govinda's push went straight into goalkeeper Martin Sikking!

The Dutch, outplayed for much of the match, then won the tiebreaker to bring up their first major title.

Netherlands vs former Soviet Union, European Championship final, 1983:

The Dutch pulled off a miraculous victory over the erstwhile Soviet Union in the European Championship final at the very stadium they won the 1973 World Cup in another final that went into the tiebreaker.

A patchwork side reeling from injury, trailed 1-2 with just minutes to the final hooter. They equalized to take the match into extra-time but trailed 3-4 with only minutes left.

Another equalizer took the match into penalty strokes (10 apiece in those days) and finished 8-6 winners to lift their first Euro title.

Netherlands vs South Korea, 2000 Sydney Olympic final:

The Dutch led 3-1 after falling behind thanks to captain Stephen Veen's hat-trick. Veen, though, saw his effort in danger of going in vain as the Koreans scored twice in quick succession with only four minutes remaining to take the match into the tie-breaker.

The midfielder, however, put in a complete performance to score the winning goal from the spot to bring up yet another famous triumph.

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