Netherlands win final after late ‘german’ equalizer

FINAL: Germany  – Netherlands 2 -2, Netherlands win shoot-out 1-4

The Netherlands dug as deep as they could possibly go to dig the men’s EuroHockey Championship title out of the fire, equalising with time gone dead and then prevailing with a perfect shoot-out. Germany looked on course for a ninth title when Constantin Staib’s delightful finish put them ahead with just over four minutes to play. But, with just two seconds on the clock, Jip Janssen fired an equaliser before Jeroen Hertzberger, Thierry Brinkman, Robbert Kemperman and Thijs van Dam scored the all-important shoot-outs.

Goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak was named MVP of the final for his series of saves and later won the OMVS Goalkeeper of the Tournament. “Just seconds on the clock and that goal from Jip Janssen! That gave us the energy to win the shoot-outs,” Blaak said afterwards, laughing it was the second time he had been off the pitch for a last second corner against the Germans. In the group stages, it was because of a green card suspension; this time he was withdrawn as the Dutch went in search of a crucial equaliser.

 “I watched the last corner from under a towel. This time, it was not on purpose that I was on the bench. We had the confidence he would score and it gave us the vitamins to have some serious fire in the shoot-out.” Germany made most of the first half running and carried a 1-0 lead into half-time courtesy of Rühr’s penalty stroke in the 21st minute.  Indeed, but for some excellent Pirmin Blaak goalkeeping, it could have been more. His first big stop came from Timur Oruz’s first-time shot following a lovely move set in motion by Martin Zwicker. Their first two corners were blocked before the Dutch found some of their mojo. This time, Alexander Stadler was assured to block Mirco Pruijser’s close range tip from a corner. Benedikt Fürk’s thunderous shot was tipped over while Constantin Staib was the next to be brilliantly blocked by Blaak. Again, it was a lovely move with Tobias Hauke’s aerial pass unlocking Lukas Windfeder on the right flank. The goal came when Zwicker – seemingly in perpetual motion around the pitch – picked up a corner rebound and flicked it goalward onto the body of Jorrit Croon. Rühr made no mistake with the stroke.

The Dutch came on much stronger in the second half, buoyed by a boisterous home crowd, and they got level in the 34th minute. Robbert Kemperman was the man to unlock the door, his quickly taken free-in saw him dance in between a couple of tackles and then whip across the face of goal where Lukas Windfeder was the unlucky defender to redirect the ball into his own goal.

Germany did pick up their fifth corner in a brief moment of respite but, otherwise, they were thankful to goalkeeper Stadler who made a couple of key blocks to keep it 1-1 going into the final quarter. The German composure returned in the fourth quarter, Niklas Bosserhoff flashing a shot just wide. Jeroen Hertzberger was brilliantly blocked from a big chance but the crucial moment came when Rühr’s ball through the middle was miscontrolled. Paul-Philipp Kaufmann got half a touch on it but Blaak looked in control until Staib appeared from nowhere to impudently punch the ball into the ground behind his back with enough on it to roll over the line.

But that was not the end to the drama as the Dutch won a corner with just two seconds showing on the stadium clock. After a video review, Janssen produced all his power to bust the net as the crowd exploded to celebrate 2-2 on the hooter. And they carried that emotional high into the shoot-out where they could not miss while Blaak did enough to deny Rühr and Timm Herzbruch and carry the day, securing their sixth title and third as hosts. “Some people have sent me messages saying don’t peak too early!” Blaak added of his personal performance. “I do what I can, train hard for the team and it was a nice team performance. You save some and you lose some, sometimes!”

In the post match presentations, England’s Sam Ward and Belgium’s Tom Boon were joint Auping top goalscorers with six goals each. The Netherlands’ Pirmin Blaak was named the OMVZ Goalkeeper of the Tournament. The Deloitte best goal of the tournament went to Niklas Wellen for his semi-final effort against England. The Volvo Under-21 talent of the tournament was France’s Antonin Igau. And the Rabobank player of the tournament was Spain’s Pau Quemada!

Germany – Netherlands 2-2 (1-0), Netherlands win shoot-outs (1-4)

21’ 1-0 Christopher Rühr (PS)

34’ 1-1 Robbert Kemperman (FG)

56’ 1-2 Constantin Staib (FG)

60’ 2-2 Jip Janssen (PC)

Umpires: F Vazquez (ESP), D Barstow (ENG)

Bronze medal match: England – Belgium 2-3

Belgium landed a men’s EuroHockey Championship medal for a third successive edition as they overturned their group stage defeat at the hands of England to win bronze at the Wagener Stadium. Arthur van Doren was pleased to land the prize after the disappointment of missing out on the final and a chance to defend the title. “It’s always good battles against England,” he said afterwards. “We were disappointed not to play the final but that is what happens in international hockey these days; good battles against top nations and we are happy to be standing here with a bronze medal. A hard-fought loss against the Dutch but I think there will be more to come this summer.

 “We had a slow start to this tournament with a slow preparation and we felt that but it is about qualifying for the semi-finals and then playing well and we did that. We made positives, tactically and mentally and we have shown we are getting into our best shape and I feel confident about that.” England started off at high intensity with Phil Roper’s pull back to David Goodfield going close while Roper drew the best of Vincent Vanasch with a stinging shot.

Belgium were slow to start but soon hit top gear with Ollie Payne tested on three occasions, standing up to challenge with assurance. He was, however, beaten by a penalty stroke from Tom Boon in the 12th minute when Sebastien Dockier was impeded by Jack Waller when through on goal. Again, England showed endeavour and won a couple of corners before the break but could not through with Vanasch palming away Liam Ansell’s effort. Early in the second half, David Condon’s trickery almost produced the equaliser but a corner did accrue which Sam Ward fired at goal and a deflection lifted it out of Vanasch’s clutches.

Belgium, though, found a new reserve of energy and they returned to the lead in brilliant fashion, a quick interchange down the left ending with Florent van Aubel shooting on the right of the D. Payne looked to have it covered but Thomas Briels got a nick on the ball to leave the keeper little time to adapt, 2-1. Boon then looked to have made the game safe with eight minutes to go when his drag found its way home, his sixth goal of the competition. But England responded instantly to keep the game alive with Ward joining Boon on six goals for the tournament with yet another corner flick. Danny Kerry’s side pushed hard for an equaliser but Belgium held firm to land their fifth European medal, adding to the 2019 gold, silver in 2013 and 2017 and bronze in 2007.

England – Belgium  (1-1)

12’ 0-1 Tom Boon (PS)

32’ 1-1 Sam Ward (PC)

42’ 1-2 Thomas Briels (FG)

52’ 1-3 Tom Boon (PC)

53’ 2-3 Sam Ward (PC)

Umpires: B Goentgen (GER), M Otten (NED)