The semi-finals of the men's Rabo EuroHockey Championships 2017 proved to be remarkably similar to the women's competition, with home favourites Netherlands and Belgium emerging triumphant on Friday (25 August 2017).
Belgium were the first team to secure their place in the competition final, although they were pushed every step of the way by Germany in what proved to be a thrilling semi-final. Lukas Windfeder gave Germany the lead after just three minutes before Belgium pulled level through Tom Boon early in the second quarter. The ever-influential Sebastien Dockier put the Red Lions in front seven minutes after half time, a lead that Belgium held until the 59th minute when Benedikt Fürk tied the scores and forced a shoot-out. Remarkably, Germany failed to score from all four of their shoot-out efforts, with Felix Denayer and Victor Wegnez scoring the crucial goals as Belgium matched their female compatriots by reaching the event final at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen.
“It’s a really great team effort to beat Germany", said Belgium's Simon Gougnard after the match. "It’s never easy, especially in the end phase. We worked really hard in our press and are really proud of our performance today. We wanted to press them really hard and we worked really hard. It started with the attackers who did a really good job with the defence and midfield in behind them.”
Belgium's opponents in the competition final will be Netherlands, who proved to be too strong for England in a semi-final watched by 10,000 spectators. Mink van der Weerden and Mirco Pruijser scored two goals in quick succession in the second quarter, with Pruijser netting again to make it 3-0 shortly after half time. Mark Gleghorne reduced the deficit before the end of the third quarter but it proved to be little more than a consolation as Netherlands men kept alive their aim of defending the European title that they won in London two years ago.
“We played a very organised second half; the first half we gave a few things away but it was very nice", said Pruijser after the match. "Those goals were very important. We had good pressure and we wanted to force a goal and finally they came.”
The men's competition will conclude on Sunday 27 August 2017, with England taking on Germany in the bronze medal match at 1330 Central European Time, while Netherlands and Belgium meet in the competition final at 1600.
To find out more about the Rabo EuroHockey Championships 2017 event, please visit the official website by clicking here.
The European Hockey Federation (EHF) recently announced that all matches from the Rabo EuroHockey Championships 2017 will be live streamed on eurohockeytv.org/ (EHTV), an exciting new streaming platform created in partnership with Sportradar. Some games at the Rabo EuroHockey Championships will be GEO blocked due to broadcast arrangements in those territories. For full details regarding the broadcast of the event, click here.