An incredible 33 goals defined the final day of group action in the men’s competition as England topped Pool A ahead of Belgium while the Netherlands won Pool B by a single goal on goal difference from Germany.
It means England face the Germans in Thursday’s semi-finals while the Netherlands come up against Belgium. Wales and Spain, meanwhile, will carry three points into Pool C with Russia and France hoping they can keep alive their bid for a World Cup ticket.
Men’s EuroHockey Championships, Pool A
Belgium – Russia 8-2
Belgium got the result they needed to assure themselves of a place in the men’s EuroHockey Championship semi-finals with a strong win over Russia. Going into the tie, they required a four-goal margin of victory to copper-fasten their place in the playoffs – and secure a World Cup ticket with it – and a blistering start helped them do just that. Indeed, the game as a contest was pretty much done and dusted in the first 13 minutes with the Red Lions running up four goals in that time. Indeed, they were a goal to the good within one minute as Florent van Aubel got them off to a flying start.
A pair of Alexander Hendrickx drag-flicks came along either side of a Nico de Kerpel finish to them out of range. Russia did have their moments with both Andrey Kuraev and Linar Fattakhov drawing the best from Loic van Doren. Antonine Kina extended the Belgian lead to five on 27 minutes before Artem Nadyrshin’s corner goal put Russia on the board. That came in the last minute before half-time but there was still enough time for van Aubel to finish off his second of the day after Simon Gougnard’s excellent approach work. Tom Boon finally got his goal in the 41st minute having previously hit the post twice, making it 7-1 while Kuraev reduced the Belgian lead once more in the 44th minute.
Hendrickx completed his hat trick and Thomas Briels slammed in another in the closing minutes. Simon Gougnard: said afterwards his side got what they were after but there is still plenty to work on. “We wanted to win the game by four goals and we managed to do that. Unfortunately we conceded two goals when we wanted a clean sheet so not totally perfect but we are happy with the result and reaching the semi-finals. We conceded too many turnovers and our counter-attack management was not good enough. Those are the points we will focus on for the next game. They played really deep so we didn’t have a lot of space so we had to stretch them a little bit, be patient and don’t force things. We started really well and in the end we made a little bit of mistakes but in general we are happy.”
Belgium – Russia 9-2 (6-1)
1’ 1-0 Florent van Aubel (FG)
9’ 2-0 Alexander Hendrickx (PC)
10’ 3-0 Nico de Kerpel (FG)
13’ 4-0 Alexander Hendrickx (PC)
27’ 5-0 Antoine Kina (FG)
30’ 5-1 Artem Nadyrshin (PC)
30’ 6-1 Florent van Aubel (FG)
41’ 7-1 Tom Boon (PC)
44’ 7-2 Andrey Kuraev (FG)
54’ 8-2 Alexander Hendrickx (PC)
56’ 9-2 Thomas Briels (FG)
Umpires: S Edwards (ENG), D Rodriguez (ESP)
Spain – England 2-3
Sam Ward’s hat trick of penalty corners saw England make it three wins from three in Amstelveen to top Pool A and onward to the semi-finals. Spain required at least a two-goal to have a chance of going through at England’s expense and while they threw everything at the tie, an early Ward corner double meant they were always chasing the game. They came within two minutes of each other as he went low each time, adjusting his feet well to get the power behind his drag-flicks. Spain ran up a large amount of corners in the contest but England’s defence was very impressive in this regard. They were however undone by a Pau Quemada rocket as Spain got one of the four goals they now needed just before half-time.
And they looked to be building up a head of steam early in the fourth quarter when Xavi Lleonart ghosted in down the left baseline and his shot popped up onto the bar and dropped over the goal line for 2-2. But try as they might, the English defence was impossible to break down again with Ollie Payne continuing his excellent tournament to date. Spain had gone to an extra outfielder with 15 minutes to go in search of the goals they needed but nothing came off. And it was England who were able to nick the result as Ward flicked home a corner in the dying seconds into a net unprotected by a padded keeper.
David Ames marshalled his defence perfectly and was named the game’s MVP as a result: “Really good first half, pretty happy with that. Second half, we had to weather a bit of a storm for 15 minutes. They took their goalkeeper off and we had to defend for our lives. Collectively, I thought we were awesome at the back end to manage to get a corner at the end and win it. We have all been really on our game in the group stages and we’ve been really solid and now have two massive games at the weekend, enjoy tonight and then be ready for whoever we have to play.”
Spain – England 2-3 (1-2)
12’ 0-1 Sam Ward (PC)
14’ 0-2 Sam Ward (PC)
26’ 1-2 Pau Quemada (PC)
34’ 2-2 Xavi Lleonart (FG)
60’ 2-3 Sam Ward (PC)
Umpires:C van Bunge (NED), M Otten (NED)
France – Germany 5-6
Germany produced their second remarkable comeback in as many games as they landed a 6-5 win to assure they will go through to the semi-finals. They trailed 5-2 after just 22 minutes but bounced back to win it when Martin Häner completed his hat trick on the final hooter. “We made it so difficult for ourselves unnecessarily, conceding the goals way too easy,” Niklas Wellen said afterwards.
“In the end, it is good to see we have the mentality to come back. We showed it against the Netherlands and we showed it today but we have to ask ourselves why it always happens. In a semi-final, we cannot afford to trail by two or three goals and then come back.” It took 78 seconds for the scoring to start, Nicolas Dumont popping up at the right post, found by Gaspard Baumgarten’s excellent pass, where he flicked by Victor Aly. Pieter van Straaten popped in the next after a lovely interchange between Elliot Curty and Blaise Rogeau. Martin Häner powered home a pair of twin penalty corners to make it 2-2 by the fifth minute but they could hold parity for eight minutes as France went on a rampage.
Charles Masson got them back in front from the baseline after a corner and van Straaten cleaned up another chance in the 19th minute created by Antonin Igau from the left-hand side. And it was 5-2 in the 22nd minute when Benjamin Marqué deflected in a crash ball but Germany’s comeback started before half-time with player of the match Niklas Wellen scoring from a corner rebound. Florian Fuchs closed the gap further three minutes into the second half with a deft touch in front of the goalkeeper as chances galore flowed from end to end. There was a brief respite before the Germans finished strong once again. Wellen’s delightful flick behind his back found a route beyond the impressive Arthur Thieffry.
And then came Häner’s hat trick with four seconds showing on the scoreboard with his flick making it through the clutches of Thieffry, completing yet another incredible German comeback. And Wellen said – after the 2-2 draw against the Dutch – his side is certainly providing plenty of entertainment. “It’s incredible. The Sunday game was packed and it was crazy after a year without people watching. It was tough but good to see people also watching this game. It means a lot to us and I think, so far, we have given them a good reason to watch our games!”
France – Germany 5-6 (5-3)
2’ 1-0 Nicolas Dumont (FG)
4’ 2-0 Pieter van Straaten (FG)
4’ 2-1 Martin Häner (PC)
5’ 2-2 Martin Häner (PC)
13’ 3-2 Charles Masson (PC)
19’ 4-2 Pieter van Straaten (FG)
22’ 5-2 Benjamin Marqué (FG)
25’ 5-3 Niklas Wellen (PC)
33’ 5-4 Florian Fuchs (FG)
54’ 5-5 Niklas Wellen (PC)
60’ 5-6 Martin Häner (PC)
Umpires: M Pontus (BEL), D Barstow (ENG)
Netherlands Wales 6-0
The Netherlands got exactly the result they needed to land top spot in Pool B, doing so with the last touch of the game thanks to Billy Bakker’s final second goal. It meant they top the group with Germany advancing with them, both landing a World Cup ticket and a place in Euro 2023 while Wales go into Pool C with three points to their name. Sander de Wijn’s delicious cross-field pass unlocked the door for Mirco Pruijser who controlled and turned, getting that piece of space to swing on and shoot home. It set them on course for the potential six-goal win they needed to top the group ahead of Germany. Jeroen Hertzberger out them further in front in the ninth minute when his shot – just centimetres inside the circle – from the left flank took a heavy stick off a defender to deflect into the goal.
And it was 3-0 by the 10-minute mark, this time Thijs van Dam getting the final touch in front of the goal after another ball was cracked into the danger zone by Jonas de Geus. From there, though, the scoring slowed down in the second quarter with Wales coming out of their shell to create plenty of danger of their own. Joe Naughalty cracked a shot off the pads of Pirmin Blaak who made another top save before James Carson’s deflection looped up and agonizingly over. The hosts, though, were always attacking at speed and causing huge problems via Seve van Ass and Robbert Kemperman. The latter laid on a brilliant chance for De Geus but James Fortnam spread himself brilliantly to block.
The scoreboard, though, started ticking again in the second half when Jeroen Hertzberger fed Pruijser and, with a delightful chip over his marker’s stick he bounced an upright backhand shot down into the ground and then up into the net. Robbert Kemperman cleaned up a penalty corner rebound to add the fifth goal. And the win was complete when Thijs van Dam latched onto de Wijn’s outstanding run down the right wing, crossing for Billy Bakker to sweep home with six seconds to go. “In the end, a very good job but we are always critical,” said MVP Pruijser. “I think the conversion in the attacking D was not that high. We should have won more penalty corners and create more goals. In the end, though, 6-0 is a good result of course. “Our energy fell a little bit down. We wanted to go full energy the whole match. The last quarter it got better and it got us the result.” The Netherlands will now go on to face Belgium in the semi-final with England going up against Germany.
Netherlands – Wales 6-0 (3-0)
4’ 1-0 Mirco Pruijser (FG)
9’ 2-0 Jeroen Hertzberger (FG)
10’ 3-0 Thijs van Dam (FG)
32’ 4-0 Mirco Pruijser (FG)
43’ 5-0 Robbert Kemperman (PC)
60’ 6-0 Billy Bakker (FG)
Umpires:S Michielsen (BEL), X Fenaert (FRA)