12th August 2017: And that’s the end of a momentous week in Glasgow as hosts Scotland beat their neighbours Wales to lift the EuroHockey Championship II Cup and ensure a 7th ranked place in the 2019 EuroHockey Championship in Antwerp!
The day started with the deciding games of the Relegation Pool C.
Ukraine 5-2 Switzerland
Ukraine won their final match of Men’s EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow with a 5-2 win over Switzerland.
It was a fairly even opening to the match with both teams looking comfortable in possession. Ukraine looked the more menacing, fashioning a few opportunities on the break, but not putting the goalkeeper under any particular pressure.
Ukraine’s goalkeeper Iaroslav Hordey picked up a bizarrely unexpected yellow card for playing the ball outside the 25 yard line. This prompted the Swiss to pile pressure on the Ukrainian backline but they were unable to penetrate the defence.
Early in the quarter Switzerland got their noses in front. A quick break down the right saw the ball find its way to Gael Wyss-Chodat in the centre of the D, and he slammed the ball into the corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Ukraine bagged an equaliser from a penalty corner. It took three attempts but eventually it was smashed into the roof of the net by Vitalii Kalinchuk to make it 1-1.
Ukraine went 2-1 up through a penalty corner by Andrii Koshelenko before Switzerland equalised through another exceptional Wyss-Chodat finish across the goalkeeper.
Ukraine restored their lead before half time when Sergii Diachuk scrambled home from close range to make it 3-2.
It was 4-2 for Ukraine when Viacheslav Paziuk sent a drag flick into the top left corner in the third quarter.
Switzerland had a real go in the final quarter and Ukraine hit them on the break in the closing stages of the match. Kalinchuk scored his second and Ukraine’s fifth to make it a 5-2 victory.
Czech Republic 1-2 Portugal
Portugal clocked up a sensational final day victory over the Czech Republic with a 2-1 score line.
Portugal took an early lead when Tiago Ventosa struck inside four minutes. The ball was slid into the D from the right and found Ventosa unmarked at the far post to tap into the empty goal.
The Portuguese were playing some silky hockey. Ventosa in particular delighted the crowd by running up the pitch with the ball balanced on the end of his stick.
The Czechs seemed content to allow Portugal to dictate the play but stifle the space in and around the D.
Portugal punished them when they scored a second goal from a penalty corner. A well-worked move saw the ball slipped back to the injector Luis Tavares who flicked towards goal and found the net via the defending stick on the line.
The second Portuguese goal spurred the Czechs to attack and press for goals of their own. In the end they went to a kicking back and they pulled a goal back through Lukas Plochy, but Portugal held on for a great victory.
Pool C Final Ranking:
Bronze Medal Game: France v Russia
The third place play-off was a candidate for game of the tournament and saw France come out on top in a 5-4 win over Russia.
France started the game well and applied pressure on the Russian defence. It was Russia however who opened the scoring. Some concise play opened up the French defence and Dmitry Laptev applied the finish to make it 1-0.
They nearly scored a second on the break but one-on-one Arthur Thieffry pulled off a terrific save to deny them.
France began to play some intricate hockey in the second quarter as they set about trying to find an equaliser.
Victor Charlet struck the post from a penalty corner and watched the ball trickle across the goal line. Charlet wouldn’t be denied for long and a few minutes later he sent a drag flick into the back of the net to equalise.
France punished Russia from another penalty corner. A lovely dummy set up Hugo Genestet who picked out the top right corner with a delightful drag flick.
The third quarter belonged to Russia and they looked unstoppable. Pavel Golubev got the ball rolling when he scored on 37 minutes to equalise from close range.
Marat Khairullin buried a penalty corner to put Russia in the lead before Andrey Kuraev scored with a delightful strike across the goalkeeper to make it 4-2.
Nicolas Dumont scored for France with a powerful shot into the bottom right corner to set up a nail-biting end to the match. The French then equalised from a penalty corner. It was a messy goal but Simon Martin-Brisac was on hand to tap the ball home and make it 4-4.
France were back in front when a brisk move down the left saw the ball deflected home by Etienne Tynevez. It ended 5-4 and France finished third in Men’s EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow.
Final: Wales 1-2 Scotland
Scotland men won EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow in a tremendous 2-1 victory over Wales. Scotland had already gained promotion to the top division of European hockey but took the top prize in the tournament in front of a full house in Glasgow.
It was a nervy opening from both sides, and a highly tactical one. Jamie Wong was picking up good positions for the Scots and Lee Morton looked dangerous on the ball.
The first opportunity fell for Wales and it came at a penalty corner – an area where Wales can be deadly. This time Tommy Alexander got down low to his right to save before blocking the rebound.
In the second quarter the match swung in Wales’ favour. A penalty corner was awarded and James Carson slammed it low into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0.
Wales were playing great hockey and the Scots were struggling to break them down.
It looked like Wales had struck a second when a crash ball into the D was deflected into the net but it was chopped off and Scotland survived.
Within seconds Scotland went on the offensive and won their first penalty corner but Kenny Bain`s powerful strike unfortunately cannoned off the bar. In the resulting scramble another set piece was awarded, this time Bain`s flick was saved on the line by Daniel Kyriakides to prevent the equaliser.
The dramatic comeback started only three minutes into the final quarter, at another penalty corner Willie Marshall`s low drag flick was half stopped by a defender but the ball still found its way into the back of the net.
The Scots` tails were now up, Forsyth had a chance for the lead but his reverse stick effort flew just wide of the target.
But the Scots were not to be denied the ultimate reward, Forsyth was again given the ball in space in the Welsh circle, he needed no further invitation and the Surbiton striker lashed the ball into the net for a 2-1 lead.
A hero now emerged at the other end of the pitch as the Welsh now pressed to get back into the contest, Scots keeper David Forrester, on at half time, produced several telling saves to keep his side in front.
In a desperate attempt to save the contest the Welsh coach replaced his goalkeeper with an additional outfield player but the Scots held on. In the final seconds Bain almost made it 3-1 with a breakaway but he was blocked at the top of the circle.
Fittingly Alan Forsyth won both the top goal scorer and player of the tournament while Tommy Alexander took the top goalkeeper award.
Scotland’s winning goal scorer Alan Forsyth said, “We made it hard for ourselves again but we knew if we played our game we would win the match. When the ball came to me I just decided to hit it as hard as I could. It was one of the best feeling of my life when it went in. Amazing.”
Scotland Captain Chris Grassick said, “This is an amazing feeling. We got what we came for but to get five wins from five is really special. We have a great squad and a great team behind us, and today’s crowd was absolutely amazing.”
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Photograph courtesy of Duncan Gray