Belgium raise the roof to set up final showdown with Germany

Men’s TriFinance EuroHockey Championship semi-final
Belgium – England 3-0 (half-time: 1-0)

Belgium are in line for their best ever finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships as they comprehensively out-played England in the second semi-final in front of a fervent crowd in Boom.

They took the lead in the 20th minute as Florent van Aubel was set free down the right and his perfect cross found the dive of birthday boy Thomas Briels, his deflection going up and over George Pinner.

They pressed for the remainder of the half but it was their sole reward for a dominant performance. Loick Luypaert flicked another effort wide while Briels hit the crossbar, though it was unlikely to count as he had made the ball dangerous in the build-up.

971961_578152545576991_1183758055_nFor England’s part they had one corner charged down while Vincent Vanasch saved well from Tom Carson in the ninth minute from the pick of their chances.

But Belgium extended their lead to 2-0 in the 44th minute when Simon Gougnard dodged around a couple of tackles down the left wing before flipping the ball across goal. It fell invitingly for Jerome Truyens who smashed it through the reeling defence into the goal.

And the game was put out of sight in the 53rd minute as Dan Fox sat out his second suspension of the half. Arthur van Doren’s slap into a crowded circle created the havoc and van Aubel was on hand to fire home.

From there, they pulled out some of the party tricks with van Aubel and van Doren producing some outrageous moments of skill, much to the delight of the capacity audience.

Belgian coach Marc Lammers:
“We were really focused on our strength. We want to steal balls, be aggressive and work together. It worked really well and we were technically, tactically, mentally and also physically better than the English. We didn’t need to use the corners because we had so many field chances. I’m really proud of the performance and am looking forward to the final.”

English coach Bobby Crutchley: “It’s probably a fair reflection of where we are at the moment. We have a new team and there will be plenty of ups and downs but the new guys have this incredible experience to take into the future.

English captain Barry Middleton: “A lot of experience has been taken out of this team; last year we had an average of 150 or 200 caps; now its about 50. That’s a huge chunk to take out. Now, it’s time to be patient and to trust the guys we have. We remember the good times but eight years ago with a new team, I remember that too. I think we can grow more than Belgium and hopefully we can catch them [in the coming years].”

Netherlands – Germany 3-5 (half-time: 2-1)
Germany remains on course for a sixth European title at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships as they saw off their fierce rivals the Netherlands 5-3 in the first semi-final.

They did the hard way, coming from a goal behind at half-time following two Mink van der Weerden penalty corner rockets that had cancelled out Tobias Hauke’s goal in the 29th minute.

Thilo Stralkowski got Germany level for a second time in the 44th minute when he thumped in a bouncing ball on his reverse after an incisive run by Mats Grambusch.

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 21.41.34It started his side’s excellent turnaround that built further momentum when Grambusch applied a beautiful behind-the-back touch to a crash ball from Florian Fuchs.

With Germany in front for the first time, they extended the margin to two goals in the 60th minute. Again, Grambusch was the scorer this time when he slid onto a penalty corner push, lifting the ball over Jaap Stockmann.

Billy Bakker gave the game a lively finish when he adroitly lifted the ball before bouncing it past Nicolas Jacobi. It made it 4-3 with five minutes to go and Tim Jenniskens thought he had won a last minute corner for his side to potentially equalise.

But the call was waved away by the umpire with the video review providing no further help for the Dutch. Germany marauded up the pitch and Oskar Deecke calmly flicked in to complete a stunning tie with a lovely goal.

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