Jan Philipp Rabente, playing his first Olympics, was the attacking prowess in the 2-1 win that earned Germany its fourth Olympic title and ruined hopes of a Dutch golden double.
Entering the final with only six goals in 77 matches and none in London, he followed a brilliant solo opener in the 33rd minute with the winner after running around behind the net with five minutes to go.
"The first one was phenomenal, unbelievable," said teammate Chris Zeller, one of the Beijing 10. "A solo run from Rabi. The second one came just at the right time so we just had to defend for five more minutes. It was good because pressure from the Dutch was immense."
Afterwards, Rabente was taken aback and a little nonplussed by the attention.
"My aim in the game is not to score goals but just to win and do everything for the win," he said. "But if there's a need to score two goals and have a chance to, I will.
"I can't really believe it right now. It was just destiny that I was standing in the right place at the right time. Every player in the team would have scored those goals. I'm just glad we won."
Mink van der Weerden equalized for the Dutch in the 53rd with his tournament-best eighth goal.
The Dutch had hoped to pull off the first Olympic double after their women beat Argentina 2-0 on Friday.
Instead, the German men emulated the Dutch women: Both repeated as champions in London.
After fulltime, the Germans fell over themselves, laughing and tearing up. When they finally gathered themselves in front of their bench, they danced and sang. Meanwhile, the Dutch stood around in disbelief while Rogier Hofman sat on the field for a long time, head bowed in his circle. Dutch standard-bearer Teun de Nooijer won a record-trying fourth medal, two golds and two silvers, and said he will be in Rio in 2016 — as a fan.
Markus Weise, who won his third successive Olympic gold after coaching the Germany women in 2004 and the men in Beijing and here, said, "A final has two ends, one sweet and one bitter, and we got the sweet end."
Weise believed the Dutch were underdone in cruising to the final and not being pushed, including a 3-1 win over Germany in the pool stage. Meanwhile, Germany endured a loss and a draw, and answered more tough questions from world champion Australia in the semifinals.
Netherlands coach Paul van Ass expected his side to play even better after losing to Germany in last year's European championship final. Instead, Germany was even stronger, he said.
"We are a skilled team but their defence was too good for our skills in the end," Van Ass said.
The Dutch should have finished off the final by halftime. But time and again they were stymied by the legs or gloves of goalkeeper Max Weinhold, and the willingness of German defenders to throw their bodies in front of shots.
Rabente broke the deadlock two minutes before halftime when he ran around Sander Baart into the circle, ran away from Robert van der Horst and slashed a goal between two defenders and past goalie Jaap Stockmann.
Zeller almost made it 2-0 when he hit the right post with a rasping shot after halftime.
Van der Weerden's first penalty corner was blocked by Martin Haener but with his immediate second chance he scored from a rocket that sent Germany captain Max Mueller ducking for cover on the goal-line. Van der Weerden scored in all seven matches.
Dutch goalie Jaap Stockmann then kept his side's hopes alive with outstanding saves but with five minutes to go, Rabente shot at goal and kept running around behind the net from the left side. Stockmann stopped the shot and the ball was cleared, only for Florian Fuchs to fire it back in. Benjamin Wess gave it a nudge toward the goal and Rabente came around from behind the net on the right post to steer it in.
Mueller said he was delighted his clubmate Rabente turned into the star of the match.
"I'm sure," Mueller said, "he will see his goal more than a hundred times in the next few weeks."