Spain scored three goals in the final four minutes to snatch a frantic 4-2 win over the Netherlands in the final of the men’s European Nations Cup in Leipzig over the weekend.
After trailing 2-1 with just four minutes remaining, Santi Freixa’s penalty stroke in the 67th minute ignited the Spanish charge as they overpowered the Netherlands to win their second men’s European championship.
Two goals each to 2004 WorldHockey Young Player of the Year Freixa and Pol Amat guided Spain to their second major tournament in the past 12 months. They also the Samsung Hockey Champions Trophy by the same score over the Netherlands late last year with Freixa also netting twice on that occasion.
The result qualified Spain for the BDO Hockey World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany. Netherlands also qualified courtesy of their final appearance.
After a scoreless opening 35 minutes, Freixa scored shortly after the break to give Spain a 1-0 lead before Karel Klaver levelled the scores midway through the half. Taeke Taekema’s penalty corner goal inside the final 10 minutes lifted the Netherlands to a 2-1 lead as they looked headed for their first European title since 1987.
However Freixa’s goal was followed by Amat’s double strike as the Netherlands couldn’t contain the late Spanish onslaught.
In the bronze medal playoff, Germany emphasised the huge gap between the top three European teams and the rest with a 9-1 thrashing of Belgium.
Florian Keller scored a hat trick and Christopher Zeller a double as Germany raced to a 4-0 lead before Charles Vandeweghe scored two minutes before half time to give Belgium hope.
However Germany again stamped their dominance on the match with Zeller’s two goals shortly after the break securing the match. They added three more goals as the second half elapsed to complete a huge win.
In Saturday’s other playoff matches, France scored a penalty stroke victory over England to finish fifth, while Poland recorded a similar result over Scotland to claim seventh spot.
After trailing France 2-0 in the second half, England rallied to score twice late in the match to level the scores, but couldn’t snatch the winner despite a golden chance from the penalty spot in the final minute of regulation time.
Spain 4 defeated Netherlands 2
Goals: ESP – Santi Freixa FG 36 PS 68, Pol Amat FG 69m FG 70m; NED - Karel Klaver FG 47m, Taeke Taekema PC 62m
3rd Place Playoff
Germany 9 defeated Belgium 1
Goals: GER - Niklas Meinert FG 10m, Florian Keller FG 11m FG 22m FG 53m, Carlos Nevado FG 19m, Christopher Zeller PS 39m FG 42m, Sebastian Biederlack FG 56m, Oliver Markowsky FG 60m; BEL - Charles Vandeweghe PC 33m
5th Place Playoff
France 2 defeated England 2 (France won 5-4 after penalty strokes)
Goals: FRA - Frédéric Soyez PC 35m, Antoine Moreau FG 39m; ENG - Rob Moore PC 64m, Ben Hawes PC 68m
7th Place Playoff
Poland 2 defeated Scotland 2 (Poland won 4-3 after penalty strokes)
Goals: POL - Rafal Grotowski FG 4m, Piotr Mikula FG 46m; SCO - Stephen Dick PC 34m, Douglas Simpson FG 66m
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