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France is the good story of this 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup. They arrived discreetly in the competition but managed to win over the American Champions (Argentina), European Champions (Belgium) and Asian Champions (Malaysia) to progress to their first ever final in a top international event. They had however their work cut out against Germany, defending Junior World Cup champions and five time winners of the junior flagship event.
France were supported by a large colony of singing fans, but Germany killed the suspense early when Niklas Wellen stole the ball in the French circle and slotted it past a surprised Edgar Reynaud in the second minute of play.
The French promptly settled their nerves and organized their game. They were working hard, keeping the Germans at bay and not hesitating to rush forward when they saw an opening. In the 16th minute, a quick exchange of passes found Gaspard Baumgarten alone at the top of the circle and he did not think twice to blast a shot past Victor Aly in the German goal, much to the vocal pleasure of the bleu-blanc-rouge crowd.
France suddenly became bolder, pushing temporarily the German defense on the back foot. A cross from Hugo Genestet eluded two German defenders but a rushing attacker could not put his stick on it for the deflection.
Germany forced their first penalty-corner of the match during a French yellow card but could not capitalize. They progressively regained the upper hand and France were under pressure at the end of the period, but half-time was reached with the two teams back to back with one goal each.
Germany came back with more purpose in their stride and play but, incredibly, France scored and took the lead on their first penalty-corner of the match in the 40th minute by Gaspard Baumgarten, his second goal of the game. This did not stand well with the Germans who forced a penalty-corner of their own in the next breath, but were denied by Edgar Reynaud, again in fine form in the French goal.
Germany came back on par in the 44th minute by Niklas Wellen, also his second of the match. He completed his hat-trick two minutes later to put Germany back on top. France however refused to capitulate and fought on every ball, holding the fort firmly until the 60 minute when Jonas Gomoll made the best of a confusing situation in the French circle to blast the ball past Reynaud.
Two goals down and a handful of minutes to go, France replaced their goal-keeper so that Corentin Saunier could have the experience of a World Cup final and the Germans scored another goal by top-scorer of the competition Christopher Rühr. Germany were were soon hoisting the Junior World Cup, for the sixth time in the history of the event, after an exciting Final that was much closer that everybody was anticipating. France were certainly happy with their performance in this competition, enjoying their silver medals with their fans.Individual Awards:
Player of the Tournament: Christopher Rühr (Germany)
Goal-keeper of the Tournament: Edgar Reynaud (France)
Top Scorer: Christopher Rühr (Germany), 9 goals
Goal of the Tournament: Jean-Laurent Kieffer (France), Argentina vs. France, 3rd French goal (48th minute)