Belgium became the first side to qualify for the men’s Rabo EuroHockey Championships semi-finals thanks to their huge 5-0 win over the Netherlands.

Earlier Germany won a thriller against England with Anton Boeckel’s fourth quarter goal earning a superb 4-3 victory over England. David Harte became the first Irish goalkeeper to hit the 200-cap mark as Ireland continued their strong start to Pool B; Michael Korper struck late for Austria to earn a 2-2 draw against Spain

Men’s Pool A: Belgium – Netherlands 5-0 (3-0)
Five star Belgium put the Netherlands to the sword with a breathtaking display of intensity in defence and efficiency on the break, ensuring their passage into the semi-finals.

The first quarter was one of the finest displays of hockey this year with both sides attacking at an incredible tempo, creating chance after jaw-dropping attack. Sebastien Dockier was first to strike, latching onto the quickest of chances in lightning fashion, a miscontrol dropping his way and he struck early and incredibly hard for 1-0.

The Dutch fought back, drawing saves after save from Vincent Vanasch with Jorrit Croon, Bob de Voogd and Sander Baart all having a go while Schuurman chipped one over and Bjorn Kellerman smashed the post. Vanasch’s best save then denied Mink van der Weerden for a single goal lead at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter settled a bit but the Dutch did win a fourth corner courtesy of Sander de Wijn’s skills. But Belgium counter-struck brilliantly with Victor Wegnez’s ball into the circle again picked up by Dockier who fired another brilliant shot across the bows of Pirmin Blaak for 2-0. Within a minute, it was three as Tom Boon found himself all the way at left back. No problem, he launched a 70-metre ball over the top that Thomas Briels collected, waited and slipped under Blaak.

The Dutch continued to make plenty of chances, eventually running up 10 corners, one of which was saved off the line by Florent van Aubel in the first minute of the second half.

Belgium moved even further ahead when Loick Luypaert slammed home a low, swept corner in the 39th minute. It was a fierce battle throughout and the cards soon began to flow with three yellows and a couple of greens on display. Vanasch continued to stand tall, particularly when his corner defence was reduced to three players for breaking the line – he saved from Seve van Ass.

Tom Boon, though, formally killed off the tie in the last five minutes as he smashed in a reverse-stick shot.

Player of the match Vanasch was modest in his reflections on the victory in a game where he made a dozen good saves and kept out ten corners.

“It was a good game for me and quite a team performance. I made some really good saves in that first quarter and the first half especially that kept us in the match.

“We tried to play with freedom and creativity and today we did that. It was quite beautiful to see,” he said of the attacking flair that matched that brick wall backline.”

And how far does he think his side can go: “After Rio, we knew that it was a big game coming and today we showed the world who we are. It is just the second game of the Euros and we still have three big games to go so we will see.”

Belgium – Netherlands
5’ Sebastian Dockier 1-0
25’ Sebastien Dockier 2-0
26’ Thomas Briels 3-0
39’ Loick Luypaert 4-0 (pc)
56′ Tom Boon 5-0

Umpires: B Bale (ENG), A Kearns (AUS)

Pool B: England – Germany 3-4 (1-2)
Germany leaped over England thanks to a 4-3 win in the game of the tournament to date with Anton Boeckel’s goal eventually settling a true, thrill-a-minute encounter.

Things looked comfortable for the Germans early on as Mats Grambusch latched onto a loose ball in the circle and cracked home into the top corner in the second minute. Niklas Wellen then found the bottom corner for 2-0 with just 11 minutes gone. Matthias Muller hit the bar from a corner as Germany looked set to run riot.

But England dusted themselves down and fought back to take the lead at 3-2. Mark Gleghorne started the comeback when he slammed a mid-circle shot into an empty goal from Henry Weir’s pull-back.

Liam Sanford did well to clean Marco Miltkau’s rolling effort off the line to keep England in the mix and it paid dividends when Phil Roper applied a wonderful little flick to a huge aerial pass for 2-2. Adam Dixon then deflected in an exceptional corner move to take the lead for the first time.

George Pinner made a trio of good stops from corners while Christopher Ruhr put the ball onto the bar amid a wild series of corners which also featured a long wait over a penalty stroke decision. At the end of that volley, Lukas Windfeder scored his second goal of the tournament for 3-3.

And, right at the start of the fourth quarter, Boeckel got free in the circle to swap the lead yet again, pouncing after Pinner padded Martin Zwicker’s shot his way.

There were no further twists, meaning Germany moved up level with Ireland on four points in the group with England dropping to third place.

Marco Miltkau was ecstatic with the win, saying: “We expected this kind of fight so to end on the right side of 4-3, it’s awesome for us. We showed real character. The first game we didn’t show that much fight. This game was pretty good, we tried to run a lot, tried to keep the ball going and it worked for us.”

It puts them in great shape for a semi-final spot, facing Poland. “Almost; we have to win!” Miltkau added.

England – Germany

2’ Mats Grambusch 0-1
11’ Niklas Wellen 0-2
16’ Mark Gleghorne 1-2
40’ Phil Roper 2-2
41’ Adam Dixon 3-2
45’ Lukas Windfeder 3-3 (pc)
46’ Anton Boeckel 4-3

Umpires: F Vazquez (ESP), J van ’t Hek (NED)

Men’s Pool B: Ireland – Poland 7-1 (4-0)
Ireland ran up seven goals to see off Poland 7-1 and continue their impressive start to the men’s EuroHockey Championships, adding to their opening day draw against Germany.

In marked contrast to their Sunday’s draw with Germany, it was a game low on drama with the result done and dusted long before half-time.

Sean Murray’s piledriver nut-megged Maciej Pacanowski in the sixth minute to start the ball rolling. The second goal provided a glimpse of the immediate future as Kirk Shimmins exchanged passes with St Andrew’s schoolboy Ben Walker down the right, with the former crossing for Neal Glassey to turn home first time.

Shane O’Donoghue’s drag-flick picked out the top corner for 3-0 in the 23rd minute and 60 seconds later Alan Sothern was claiming a delicate touch to Matthew Nelson’s brilliant turn and burn.

O’Donoghue added an identical drag-flick for the fifth Irish goal before Patryk Pawlak got one back from Dominik Kotulski’s cross.

It came during an indifferent phase of the game before Ireland reawoke for the last few minutes, Nelson and Stuart Loughrey boosting their goal difference with a couple of simple finishes.

For goalkeeper David Harte, it was his 200th international cap, and he said it was an important result, setting up a potentially crucial date with England on Wednesday.

“It was more important [than reaching 200 caps] to get the win and get the 7-1 on the board, replicating the six goal difference England did against them.

“It essentially sets up a quarter-final against England on Wednesday to get into the top four in the European Championships.”

Ireland – Poland

6’ Sean Murray 1-0
10’ Neal Glassey 2-0
23’ Shane O’Donoghue 3-0 (pc)
24’ Alan Sothern 4-0
36’ Shane O’Donoghue 5-0 (pc)
39’ Patryk Pawlak 5-1
55’ Matthew Nelson 6-1 (pc)
58’ Stuart Loughrey 7-1

Umpires: M Eilmer (AUT), S Michielsen

Men’s Pool A: Spain – Austria 2-2 (0-0)
Michael Korper lived up to his goal machine reputation as he slammed home a last minute corner goal to give Austria their first point in a EuroHockey Championships group stage in the opening game of day four in Amsterdam.

He scored with just 20 seconds to go, his second of the game, to earn Austria a 2-2 draw against Spain, a situation that Korper was very pleased with.

“We’re really happy, especially doing it against Spain, a top nation. For us, this is the outcome for all that we have put in, all the effort,” he said.

“It was not a lucky one; we deserved it and there was a chance to win. I am happy and proud for the team; I am just a happy man and we can now look forward to our last pool game.

“The last time in 2009, we won against Poland to avoid last place but this is the first point in a group in A division and we now need to push forward, get better and better and achieve our goal of staying in this class.”

Spain had the pick of the first half chances with Xavi Lleonart slamming a shot into the chest of Mateusz Szymczyk amid a goalmouth scramble in the fourth minute. Lleonart was to the fore, opening up his box of tricks at regular intervals but Austria were not sitting back on their laurels in any sense.

On thr stroke of half-time, Pau Quemada saw a corner saved out and eventually cleared at the third attempt, leading to a swift counter-attack which ended with a Michael Korper shot hitting a foot and an Austrian corner. It went incomplete, though, and it was scoreless at the break.

Korper also had a snap shot go wide moments into the second half from Alex Bele’s driving run. It built up to the 35th minute opening goal, Korper volleying home but it owed a massive amount to Florian Steyrer’s brilliant run down the left wing, bouncing the ball between two defenders and flicking up off Quico Cortes’s chest.

The equaliser, though, came with 13 minutes to go. Marc Salles fed the ball forward and Enrique Gonzalez guided a first time pass into the path of Alvaro Iglesias who slammed home first time.

Soon after, Josep Romeu turned the game on its head when he fired home a drag-flick down Szymczyk’s right hand side to make it 2-1 with nine minutes to go. Spain held the best of the next few phases to close in on victory and a lifeline in the semi-final shake-up.

But they reckoned without Korper and his relish for scoring late goals and while his first shot from a last minute corner was blocked, he pumped home the second attempt for a famous result.

Spain – Austria
35’ Michael Korper 0-1
47’ Alvaro Iglesias 1-1
51’ Josep Romeu 2-1 (pc)
60’ Michael Korper 2-2 (pc)

Umpires: J Mezlik