Belgium players celebrate after they beat Netherlands 3-1. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Finally, the Belgium men’s field hockey team broke through against the neighboring Netherlands on Tuesday.

Just like the New Zealand women finally got past nearby Australia the day before.

The Belgians had never beaten the Netherlands at a major men’s field hockey event -- 18 matches dating back to 1936 -- until they dominated in a 3-1 victory in the Olympic semifinals on Tuesday night.

It’s not a huge upset by on-field standards -- Belgium is ranked sixth, while the Netherlands is second. But the Belgians hadn’t medaled since 1920. The Netherlands took the gold in 1996 and 2000 and silver in 2004 and 2012.

There was evidence that things might be different for Belgians this time -- they had drawn against Dutch in the two most recent major events -- the Champions Trophy and World League Final events in 2014 -- following a seven-match losing streak that spanned 14 years.

New Zealand knocked off Australia 4-2 in the women’s quarterfinals on Monday. New Zealand entered the match with a 7-29-8 all-time record against Australia in major events and had won just once in the previous nine meetings. 

New Zealand has never medaled at the Games. Australia won gold in 1988, 1996 and 2000. 


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter @CliffBruntAP.