The Netherlands and Germany set up a sixth women’s EuroHockey Championship final meeting as both fought their way through tough semi-finals, getting the best of Belgium and Spain, respectively. They will meet on Sunday in the final at 12.30pm (CET) with the bronze match at 10am (CET).
Earlier in the day, England moved within touching distance of a fifth overall and a World Cup ticket when they beat Ireland 5-1; Scotland got their first win in Pool C with a 3-1 success against Italy.
Netherlands – Belgium 3-1
The Netherlands moved a step closer to another women’s EuroHockey Championship title as they held off the challenge of Belgium in front of a healthy crowd at the Wagener Stadium. But it was far from a facile victory over Belgium as Eva de Goede admitted afterwards: “They definitely made it hard for us. We played them a couple of times now and it is always difficult to beat them, especially in the third chukka when they really played well and had us. So I was really happy when we scored pretty quickly in the fourth with that amazing corner from Caia [van Maasakker] that gave us more breathing time.”
Frédérique Matla’s tip-in in the fifth minute – her seventh goal of this tournament – set the Dutch on their way in pursuit of a 13th Euro final appearance. Felice Albers made it 2-0 when Pien Dicke tackled a defender coming out of defence and quickly transferred to Laurien Leurink. She found Albers peeling across goal and she was able to evade the goalkeeper and pop into the goal.
But Belgium were not about to roll over and they showed their attacking intent. Judith Vandermieren tested Josine Koning’s padding with a fierce reverse-stick shot. And Alix Gerniers threatened from their first penalty corner early in the second half. Indeed, were it not for two brilliant pieces of covering from Pien Sanders, the Red Panthers could have been through one-on-one.
Charlotte Englebert’s direct running was a key feature, tearing into the heart of the Dutch defence and eliminating a number of players. In time, it duly yielded a stroke – when Justine Rasir’s stick was checked – which Stephanie Vanden Borre converted, making it a real game. But the Dutch settled well at the three quarter time break and set about getting back their control on the fixture. Elodie Picard was forced into a rapid triple-stop before the Dutch won their second corner. This time, van Maasakker picked out the top corner with her drag-flick to restore the two-goal advantage and quash the Belgian assault.
And de Goede added it has been really enjoyable to get back into action on this stage. “It’s even better than ever because we have missed it so much. You almost take it for granted that there are fans in the stands but now it is so special to have them back. Even though it is not completely full, it feels so full and it is at home for us so it is amazing to have them behind us. They really helped us through the game today.”
Netherlands – Belgium 3-1 (2-0)
5’ 1-0 Frédérique Matla (FG)
16’ 2-0 Felice Albers (FG)
37’ 2-1 Stephanie Vanden Borre (PS)
49’ 3-1 Caia van Maasakker (PC)
Umpires:A Keogh (IRL), M Meister (GER)
Germany – Spain 4-1
Germany set up a sixth women’s EuroHockey Championship final showdown with the Netherlands thanks to their 4-1 semi-final win over Spain, putting them within one win of a third continental title. The scoreline did not reflect an incredibly close tussle with the margin of success inflated by two last minutes goals as Die Danas capitalised on Spain leaving the back door open.
“It was a pretty tough game for us,” said MVP Cecile Pieper. “We came out really strong and scored right away and then it got out of our hands a bit. In the second half, we came on strong again and, in the end, I think it was a deserved win because we had a really good second half.“In sport, there is always a little bit of luck and that was on our side. But our corner defence looked really good and our goalie had a great day and I am really proud of the girls.”
Germany got off to the perfect start, winning a corner which drew the best from Maria Ruiz. It went out for a long corner which was worked back into the danger zone with Anne Schröder flipping the ball into the path of Cecile Pieper to redirect the ball in. Spain were level in the 13th minute from their first corner when Lucia Jimenez took in a slightly off course injection, sweeping at goal where Berta Bonastre was waiting to chip the ball into the net.
From there, it was an intense battle between well matched teams with very little to separate them. Spain did spurn the next golden opportunity, a corner move falling to Xantal Giné who had the goal at her mercy but caught her sweep shot early and across the face of goal.
And the miss was punished just before the end of the fourth quarter from a series of corners, the second of which Sonja Zimmerman brought the power to make it 2-1. Spain threw everything into attack for the closing quarter and picked up four penalty corners but each time the German defence broke out at pace to charge down the chances and allow now clean sight to goal. And when the Red Sticks withdrew their goalkeeper, Germany capitalised to score two more into an unguarded net, Pia Maertens and Schröder the happy recipients to make sure they could breathe a bit easier in the final seconds.
Looking forward to the Dutch contest, Pieper added: “It is a classico and we will throw everything at it and hopefully it will be a really good game.”
Germany – Spain 4-1 (2-0)
3’ 1-0 Cecile Pieper (FG)
13’ 1-1 Berta Bonastre (PC)
45’ 2-1 Sonja Zimmerman (PC)
60’ 3-1 Pia Maertens (FG)
60’ 4-1 Anne Schröder (FG)
Umpires: Y Makar (CRO), C Martin-Schmets (BEL)
Scotland – Italy 3-1
Italy dominated the first quarter but could not find a way past the impressive Amy Gibson who made a series of strong blocks. Against the run of play, Scotland got on the board when Bronwyn Shields slipped home a penalty corner move at the left post. Sarah Robertson got the next in the 21st minute after McKenzie Bell’s great run and a Fiona Burnet pull-back. Bell made it 3-0 with 13 minutes to go with a perfectly executed turn and shot from mid-circle. Sofia Laurito got one back from Italy’s fifth penalty corner – they ended with seven, Scotland had one – from the injector spot and while they took off their goalkeeper for the closing phases, they could not close the gap further.
Scotland – Italy 3-1 (2-0)
17’ 1-0 Bronwyn Shields (PC)
21’ 2-0 Sarah Robertson (FG)
47’ 3-0 McKenzie Bell (FG)
53’ 3-1 Sofia Laurito (PC)
Umpires: L Delforge (BEL), S Bockelmann (GER)
Ireland – England 1-5
England produced a five-star comeback to move to the edge of fifth place overall and qualification for the 2022 World Cup as Sarah Evans scored a couple of goals. The Green Army started perfectly with Deirdre Duke’s diving touch seeing her get on the end of a brilliant Anna O’Flanagan cross in the 10th minute. But England steadied the ship and scored three times in the second quarter to turn things around. Toman’s pin-point corner shot brought the sides level before Evans touched in at the back post from Lily Owsley’s cross. Evans then volleyed in from an Ellie Rayer assist for 3-1 at half-time. From there, England always looked in control and moved further clear via Giselle Ansley’s heavily deflected shot and Toman’s corner sweep with Owsley and Jo Hunter swooping to nick the final touches.
Ireland – England 1-5 (1-3)
9’ 1-0 Deirdre Duke (FG)
20’ 1-1 Anna Toman (PC)
23’ 1-2 Sarah Evans (FG)
29’ 1-3 Sarah Evans (FG)
42’ 1-4 Lily Owsley (PC)
59’ 1-5 Jo Hunter (PC)
Umpires: S Wilson (SCO), I Amorosini (ITA)