LONDON - Defending champions Germany staged a thrilling fightback to defeat world champions Australia 4-2 and reach the Olympic men's hockey final on Thursday. For the first two-thirds of the match the Aussies had often looked the better team, but a controversial disallowed goal fired up the Germans who came back spiritedly from 1-2 down with three dramatic goals.

Germany were obliged to their goalkeeper Max Weinhold for two courageous saves in the first half, both from penalty corners.  But he could not stop the Australians taking the lead when Glenn Turner, his shaven head gleaming in the sun, worked acres of space for himself on the left, cut in and shot hard.

Weinhold did manage to block it, but the rebound found Kieran Govers, bombing in down a centre right channel, and he scored with a flourish. The lead lasted only three minutes though. Matthias Witthaus did well to weave into the penalty area, and after the ball hit an Australian foot, he won a penalty corner.

Taken by Florian Fuchs it was rammed home by Moritz Furste. Early in the second half, Australia had the lead again when the Germans got into a defensive muddle. Weinhold appeared to have saved well again, but still the ball was not cleared, and Turner thwacked it in from a few feet. But the match turned around after Germany were denied an apparently brilliant equaliser, for dangerous play.

Korn's perceptive lofted pass was deftly controlled mid-air by Oskar Deecke and with a little aerial juggling, he nudged over the goalkeeper. But it did not count and after four Germans failed to get the referee to change his mind, the Olympic champions seemed to be fired up by the perceived injustice. Very soon Tobias Hauke split the Australian defence with a diagonal ball from the left, putting in Witthaus to equalise, and within a few minutes Germany had a two-goal lead. After that the Australians were forced to press hard and from an inevitable breakaway Fuchs made a place in the final safe with a fourth goal.