The Netherlands won their tenth EuroHockey Championship title as they scored in the first and last quarter to beat Germany 2-0 in a thrilling final at Wilrijkse Plein in Antwerp.
It was their sixth European final and the fifth time the Oranje have won this encounter as Kelly Jonker opened the scoring in the 12th minute before Lidewij Welten won it 40 seconds from the end.
During the match, Germany made the first incision, winning a third minute penalty corner but their innovative attempt from the right-side for the injection produced no danger. Thereafter, it was the Dutch who enjoyed the vast majority of the game as Frederique Matla’s driving runs caused plenty of problems.
She drew a foul for her side’s first corner which Caia van Maasakker shot wide before Hanna Granitzki’s last ditch tackle kept the Oranje scoreless.
That was until Eva de Goede danced into some space down the left channel and picked out an inviting pass for Kelly Jonker to attack and she ramped the ball into the goal – 1-0 in the 12th minute.
The second period saw the Netherlands continue their control on the game but the German defence, marshalled by Janne Muller-Wieland were giving little away, protecting their circle superbly.
Again, the third quarter saw the Dutch as the major aggressors while Germany stayed deep and bided their time. Lidewij Welten became more and more of an influence. Laurien Leurink hit Julia Sonntag’s helmet from the pick of their chances in the 43rd minute.
Germany’s attacks were fleeting but Pia Maertens was adept at causing trouble. Nike Lorenz’s yellow card delayed their efforts to throw everything forward but her return allowed the side to go for it with more ambition in the last five minutes.
Viktoria Huse did save a corner sweep off the line to keep hopes alive but the Netherlands sealed the deal once they went to 11 outfielders. Malou Pheninkx caught a long ball out of defence down the right, slipped inside to Leurink who shipped it on to Welten who was able to finish brilliantly on the reverse.
Following the final, the presentations were made with Gigi Oliva winning player of the tournament, Pia Maertens earning the young player of the tournament and Maria Ruiz crowned the goalkeeper of the tournament.
Dutch coach Alyson Annan said afterwards: “It was a fantastic tournament, well organised by everyone. It was a real pleasure to play on this platform so we are really happy.”
Her side got off to a slow start in the competition, drawing their first two games before hitting form in a big way with huge wins over Russia and England.
“We had a lot of trust in the way we were playing and we know what we can do. We were trying a few things and that means you fail. We allowed some room for failure and when you do that, you build the trust in your game which is very special in this group.”
And Annan is delighted to add an Olympic ticket to the title: “It’s fantastic . We came here for a European title but to have an Olympic ticket, we are so happy.”
Earlier in the day, Spain won their first European medal since 2003 as they fought back from a goal deficit to beat England in a shoot-out, ending the English run of seven successive medals.
Normal time ended 1-1 with England taking the lead in the 10th minute via Hannah Martin before Maria Tost equalised in the second half, setting up the shoot-out.
They trailed 1-0 at half-time but three battling goals from Nikki Evans, Sarah Hawkshaw and Katie Mullan got them over the line in the end 3-2 despite corner goals from Bogdana Sadovaia and Aleksandra Leonova.
Stephanie Vanden Borre gave them a second quarter lead and they finally shrugged off the Belarussian challenge with goals from Barbara Nelen and Jill Boon, countering one from Sviatlana Bahushevich.
Women’s Belfius EuroHockey Championship – day 10 results
Final: Netherlands 2 (K Jonker, L Welten) Germany 0
Bronze match: Spain 1 (M Tost) England 1 (H Martin), Spain win shoot-out 3-2
Pool C: Belgium 3 (S Vanden Borre, B Nelen, J Boon) Belarus 1 (S Bahushevich); Ireland 3 (N Evans, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan) Russia 2 (B Sadovaia, A Leonova)
Player of the tournament: Gigi Oliva (Spain)
Young player of the tournament: Pia Maertens (Germany)
Goalkeeper of the tournament: Maria Ruiz (Spain)
Top scorers (both with 5): Caia van Maasakker, Lidewij Welten (both Netherlands)