Scholten strike seals victory over Oranje-Rood in thrilling EHL final
Rot-Weiss Köln won a brilliant EHL GRAND FINAL as they held HC Oranje-Rood at bay, winning the title for the first time with a 3-2 scoreline following a pulsating day in Brasschaat, Belgium.
In the decider, the German side built a 2-0 lead only to see the Dutch giants roar back into contention and level the game. But a delightful finish from Florian Scholten with 10 minutes to go saw Rot-Weiss take down the title.
Reflecting on the result, coach André Henning said it was the end-product of a long-held dream to land the Alain Danet Trophy.
“It’s just awesome,” he said afterwards. “Ten or 12 years ago when we first heard a few things about the EHL coming in, from then it was always my personal dream to be part of it. It’s such an honour to be here and to be part of it. It was our biggest goal this year to win it and everyone knows it’s the best competition in the world.
“Yesterday, we showed great body language [against KHC Dragons]. Today, both teams were fighting a lot. It was very physical but in the last quarter, we gave it everything to get the result – an awesome team performance.”
The first half was played at great speed with both sides breaking at speed and looking to counter-attack. Bob de Voogd and Jelle Galema had a number of raids while Jair van der Horst’s left wing cross went just wide from Caspar van Dijk’s cross.
They almost profited when Matthias Müller’s clearance fell kindly for Muhammad Rizwan but he was quickly shut down by Victor Aly who made a brilliant double-block in the 23rd minute.
It led to the game’s first corner but it was not stopped, denying Mink van der Weerden a first shot on goal.
A little against the run of play, Rot-Weiss produced a sustained piece of controlled possession, probing the Oranje-Rood 23-metre area. Mats Grambusch eventually unpicked the defence with a top pass to Jonas Gomoll who won a corner. Tom Grambusch brilliantly dragged the chance into the top corner for 1-0.
Back came Oranje-Rood with Agustin Mazzilli having two bites at a chance created by van der Weerden’s overlap. It led to a second corner but Rot-Weiss cleared once more for a narrow lead at half-time.
The second half started at similar pace with Galema clipping a shot into the outside of the goal while Timur Oruz also pushed an effort onto the frame of the goal.
Rot-Weiss got their second goal in the 35th minute, though, when a crash ball from the back was deflected into the path of Florian Adrians and he brilliantly slotted a shot under goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
The Dutch side took little time to get back into the tie, Agustin Mazzilli netting in the 38th minute after Jair van der Horst had nicked the ball back to Caspar van Dijk. He popped it back behind the defence for the Argentinean to flick in.
And the game was level in the 40th minute when Bram Huijbregts cut in to win a corner. He found a foot for a fourth penalty corner which van der Weerden fired home for 2-2, his third goal of the weekend.
Alexander Schölkopf was in the sin-bin at that time for a foul on Mazzilli but when he returned, Rot-Weiss responded. Kai Aichinger produced some magic down the right wing and worked the ball into the centre where Florian Scholten controlled in mid-air and volleyed into the goal a lovely effort, 3-2.
Van der Weerden won himself another corner with an excellent run but his flick was charged down as Rot Weiss hung on to their lead.
From there, Oranje-Rood drove forward through Benjamin Stanzl but he got little change from Müller. The Dutch side then had three penalty corners in the closing minute but they put their bodies on the line – surviving getting reduced to nine players as well – to keep out the chances and land the biggest prize in European club hockey.
Earlier in the day, KHC Dragons won their fourth EHL medal with a controlled and composed 3-1 win over Wimbledon to the delight of their home crowd at Brasschaat.
Dragons hit the front in the 12th minute when Alexander Hendrickx whizzed into the roof of the net from a corner. In the 20th minute, it became 2-0 when Arthur van Doren burst forward. He pushed into the danger zone where Thomas Briels got a touch to the ball and it bounced awkwardly for James Bailey, somehow slipping through his clutches and over the goal line.
It stayed that way for a long time until Wimbledon removed the goalkeeper with three minutes to go. They were caught out, however, when Robbert Rubens finished into an empty net to make it 3-0 with three minutes left.
Phil Roper got one back in the final minute for Wimbledon for some respite after a tough weekend for the English side.
Dragons' captain Felix Denayer said it was a fine outcome for his young side's efforts this season.
“At the start of the season, we had a few doubts because our team has an average age of 23 so to win the Belgian championship and a bronze medal in Europe on our home pitch, it is an awesome finish.
“Of course we were disappointed not to reach the final in front of our home crowd. But I think its amazing what the club did here, to host the four biggest clubs in Europe.”
The eleventh season of the EHL will begin next October with ROUND1.
Saturday 3 June
SF1: Rot-Weiss Köln 5 (F Adrians, J Gomoll, M Müller, M Miltkau, T Grambusch) KHC Dragons 3 (A Hendrickx, F van Aubel, T Luyten)
SF2: HC Oranje-Rood 8 (M van der Weerden 2, B Stanzl, M van Baal, J Galema, J de Mol, T Beins, N van der Schoot) Wimbledon 0
Sunday 4 June
Rot-Weiss Köln 3 (T Grambusch, F Adrians, F Scholten) HC Oranje-Rood 2 (A Mazzilli, M van der Weerden)
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
KHC Dragons 3 (A Hendrickx, T Briels, R Rubens) Wimbledon 1 (P Roper)
Event website: http://ehlhockey.tv/
Match schedule: http://ehlhockey.tv/season/20162017/
Facebook: Euro Hockey League
Hashtags: #EHL #FINAL4