29.08.2015: The Netherlands produced a truly sensational first half display to win the Unibet EuroHockey Championships final, claiming their first title since 2007 – the last time the competition was played in England, running up a 6-1 win over Germany.
It was their fourth continental championship and also the biggest ever victory in the final match as they tore through the German defences in an uncharacteristically one-sided contest.
Each goal before the break was a thing of beauty as Billy Bakker’s sixth minute opener set the tone before a pair of Mink van der Weerden corner strikes were augmented by pitch-length counter-attack moves completed by Jeroen Hertzberger and Rogier Hofman. Possibly the best was left until last when Mirco Pruijser ran the length of the pitch and crashed his shot past Jacobi.
The two teams have met in the finals of the European Hockey Championships on six previous occasions with the German team recording six victories. But this finals weekend at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships at Lee Valley is a time for history to be made, and the Netherlands did not just break that record, they totally smashed it in a 6-1 win that began in the sixth minute and never really relented.
Reflecting on the victory, Dutch captain Rob van der Horst said it was one of the most memorable moments in his illustrious career.
“When the score is like that, you start to enjoy it a little bit more,” he said. “You see things on the big screen that make you smile, people cheering, guys on the bench crying. You get that time to really enjoy it and the emotions. Normally, you play until the end and it’s like ‘oh, we won!’. Now, this was very different!
“Obviously, this is the best result ever for me in my career. It was a little bit more comfortable because you are so dominant. You win some and lose some but this one we really, really won.”
Earlier in the day, history was made as Ireland won the bronze medal, winning a medal at this elite level for the very first time with a 4-2 win over England.
Speaking after the game, Ireland’s John Jackson said: “We have achieved something it will be very hard to replicate – a medal at the European Championships. England are a quality side, so we knew we had to stop them attacking down the central channels. Everyone worked so hard.”
His side stayed level pegging with England at half-time at 2-2 with corner goals from Shane O’Donoghue and Alan Sothern cancelling out English goals from Harry Martin and Adam Dixon.
Eugene Magee’s effort put Ireland in front for the first time and, despite a big rearguard effort, they held on to the narrow lead until the final seconds before O’Donoghue clinched the win with the final flick of the match.
Belgium finished the tournament with a flourish with an 11-4 win over Russia with Tom Boon scoring seven times to earn the tournament’s top scorer berth.
They finished fifth, one place ahead of Spain in sixth who were 4-3 victors over France in a thrilling match. The Spanish looked comfortable at 2-0 up but Victor Charlet inspired his team to a series of corner goals to equalise at 2-2 and 3-3 before Xavi Lleonart sealed the victory.
It means Spain stay in the top tier while France and Russia are relegated to EuroHockey Championships II for 2017.
There was some consolation for Germany in the shape of Florian Fuchs who won the Unibet Player of the Tournament award.
It was a double celebration for Ireland as their goalkeeper and Captain David Harte took the Goalkeeper of the Tournament Award.
Tom Boon netted seven times to take the top scorer award with ten goals.
The women’s finals, which for the first time ever will close the tournament will take place tomorrow. Hosts England take on the Netherlands in a game which is live on BBC2 at 16:00.
BEL v RUS
ESP v FRA
IRL v ENG
NED v GER