Germany men celebrate their 2012 European indoor title
Germany men celebrate their 2012 European indoor title
(Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

In the women's final of the 2012 EuroHockey Indoor Championships, Germany wrestled down Belarus on penalty strokes, while the German men dispatched the Czech Republic in their match for gold. Austria men and Poland women took the bronze. The Ukrainian and Spanish women as well as the Swiss and English men are relegated from Europe's top flight indoor competition.

In the men's final, big tournament favorites Germany struggled against surprise finalists Czech Republic in the first half, having advantages in the field against the fiercely fighting Czech but finding themselves incapable of creating danger. They couldn't score until late in the first half, and went into half time with a meager one goal lead, but a step up in pressure saw the Germans pull away after the break. With goals from team captain Tobias Hauke, Matthias Witthaus, Thilo Stralkowski and Benni Wess, the home team won the final 4:0 to bring the European nations title back to what is arguably the world's strongest indoor nation.

The women's final on the other hand was ultimately dramatic, decided only in a penalty stroke competition, when neither the regular 40 minutes nor extra time could separate the contenders. After a goalless first half, it looked like Belarus would run with the match, building a two goal lead through Yuliya Mikheichyk and Alesia Piotukh, but a double hit from Dinah Grote late in the second half tided Germany over into extra time. Both teams risked little in the following 2x5 minutes and the match had to be decided in a penalty stroke competition. Germany's goalkeeper and Leipzig native Karo Amm stepped up to the test and brought the Belarussian strikers to despair with her saves, opening up the way for Kerstin Holm to give her team the Gold by converting her chance in the first round of sudden death strokes.

In the women's bronze medal match, Poland came out more courageous and dynamic than their Dutch counterparts, scoring twice in the first nine minutes, and never looked back, each goal from the Netherlands being matched with the suitable reply. The match ended 4:3 for a Polish side full of still young talent, with today's bronze medal promising a new strong contender in the world of top indoor hockey.

The men's bronze went to Austria, champions in 2010, who had a firm grip on their game against the Netherlands throughout the match. Two goals from Michael Körper in the first three minutes set the pace, and the Dutch couldn't find a way to bring the scores level again. Two more from Körper later in the match, and another from Dominik Monghy secured a 5:3 final score and third place for Austria.

The deciding round of matches in the men's relegation saw Russia overcome Switzerland in a fiercely contested match, scoring the winning goal from a penalty stroke only seconds from the final whistle. In the second encounter, England managed to defeat the already safe Spaniards, but a win with a one goal margin was not enough to avoid them dropping out of Europe's elite.

In the women's relegation pool, Austria unexpectedly cruised past Spain and the Czech Republic overcame the Ukraine, which resulted in today's winners being safe from relegation. Spain will have to compete in the B division in two years time, as do the Ukraine, whose descent will be especially bitter having come to Leipzig to defend their 2010 European crown.

The individual awards had Ashley Jackson from England and Irene Balek from Austria take the honors of the competition's topscorers, while the Czech Republic's Filip Neusser and Maryna Navitskaya from Belarus received the Best Goalkeeper awards. As Best Players of the Tournament, the media representatives present chose both German captains: Tobi Hauke for the men and Rebecca Landshut for the women.

Final Standings Men

1. Germany
2. Czech Republic
3. Austria
4. Netherlands
5. Spain
6. Russia
7. England
8. Switzerland

Final Standings Women

1. Germany
2. Belarus
3. Poland
4. Netherlands
5. Czech Republic
6. Austria
7. Spain
8. Ukraine

Classification Men

3/4th place: Austria - Netherlands 5:3 (2:1)
Final: Czech Republic - Germany 0:4 (0:1)

Classification  Women

3/4th place: Poland - Netherlands 4:3 (2:1)
Final: Belarus - Germany 2:2 (0:0) Penalty Strokes 2:3

Pool C Men

1. Spain - 6 points - 11:6 goals
2. Russia - 4 point - 13:13 goals
3. England - 4 point - 13:14 goals
4. Switzerland - 3 points - 7:11 goals

Spain - England 2:3 (1:1)
Switzerland - Russia 2:3 (1:2)

Pool C Women

1. Czech Republic - 5 points - 11:10 goals
2. Austria - 4 point - 9:8 goals
3. Spain - 4 points - 8:10 goals
4. Ukraine - 3 points - 11:11 goals

Austria - Spain 4:1 (1:1)
Ukraine - Czech Republic 4:5 (0:1)