In the first round of pool play for the women, England got the better of Spain, Germany bagged a lucky win against Scotland, Belgium sailed past Belarus and the Netherlands had no difficulty with Ireland. The men's opening day matches had Spain defeat the Czech Republic and Belgium wrestle down Germany.
Women: England - Spain 3-0 (2-0)
The TriFinance EuroHockey Championships got underway today with the match between the women’s teams of England and Spain. The English ladies had firm control over most of the match and booked a 3-0 win that was never in much danger.
Rushing forward from the sound of the whistle, England put pressure on Spain from the opening minutes, and soon took the lead through Hannah Macleod. A second penalty corner goal midway through the first half through team captain Kate Walsh established a 2-0 lead that England took into halftime. Spain continued to put down a good effort in defense in the second half but struggled to push back and young Lily Owsley managed to score England’s third goal a few minutes into the second half with the match’s only goal from open play.
The 3-0 opening victory gives England’s campaign for the semi-finals a big boost, while Spain will have to regroup and refocus before tomorrow’s clash with the tough Scottish side.
Women: Germany - Scotland 1-0 (1-0)
In the women's other pool B encounter, Germany took a lucky win against a gritty Scottish side with a 20th minute own goal from the Scots after an unlucky deflection. Germany had a number of opportunities through the encounter but could not find the target, while the Scottish side stood fast in defense but were not able to make it count on the attack. Germany held on to the lone goal until the final whistle to secure an opening win to strengthen their bid for the semi-finals.
Women: Belgium - Belarus 5-1 (1-0)
Spurred on by a visit from their king that constituted his first official appearance as the King of Belgium, the Red Panthers dispatched Belarus 5-1.
After a rocky start which had the hosts waste a number of opportunities, Stefanie de Groof finally got her side on the scoreboard in the 30th minute with a penalty corner conversion. In the second half, Belgium were better able to take advantage of their chances and raced away to a 5-0 lead before Belarus managed a consolation goal through Krestina Kulinkovich in the dying minutes of the match.
Men: Spain - Czech Republic 6-1 (3-1)
In the first men's match of the event, Spain sailed to a 6-1 win over the Czech Republic, including a double hit from Edi Tubau plus one goal each from Miki Delás, Pau Quemada, Roc Oliva and Alex Casasayas. The Czechs' lone goal came from a standard situation as defensive anchor Tomas Prochazka sunk a penalty corner in the 16th minute that was also the Czech Republic’s first ever goal in the top tier of European Championships history.
The win gives Spain a headstart in the strong men's pool A, in which Spain will be competing for a semi-final spot with powerhouses Germany and Belgium.
Women: Netherlands - Ireland 6-0 (1-0)
The final women's clash of the day pitted Ireland against the reigning European Champions Netherlands. The favored Dutch struggled in the first half against a bravely defending Irish side that stifled plenty of orange attacks but could not avoid a goal from deadly penalty corner flicker Maartje Paumen.
In the second half however, the world number 1 gathered momentum and pulled away, adding goals at a steady pace with another from Paumen, a double from Ellen Hoog and a goal a piece from Kitty van Male and Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel for a 6-0 win.
Men: Germany - Belgium 1-2 (1-2)
The day concluded with a nailbiter of a clash between Germany and the home team in front of a stadium packed to the last seat with enthusiastic supporters of the Red Lions who witnessed Belgium recording an important opening win against Olympic champions Germany.
An early goal from Mats Grambusch had gotten Germany on the scoreboard first but Belgium soon took the reigns and a quick double hit with two penalty corner conversions in as many minutes through Loïck Luypaert and Tom Boon set the hosts back on track. German goalkeeper Nico Jacobi was crucial in keeping the scoreline close with some extraordinary goalkeeping efforts in both halves, but Germany could not get past the Belgians on the attack and Belgium celebrated their win in the opening match with more than 8.000 vocal fans.
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