The Netherlands showed a ruthless streak as they swept aside Spain 7-1 in their opening men’s Pool A tie; Belgium had earlier beaten Austria 4-1 to set up a potentially spectacular date on Monday evening in the Wagener Stadium

Pool A: Netherlands – Spain 7-1 (3-0)
The Netherlands ruthlessly punished Spain’s indiscipline as they scored three times against a short-handed opponent just before half-time, putting them on course for a massive win over Spain.

After a poignantly observed minute’s silence in remembrance of the victims of the Barcelona attacks, the hosts tore into the contest with a tempo that Spain could never match.

For 25 minutes, the Dutch came up against a Quico Cortes-shaped brick wall. The Spanish keeper made ten saves in that time, including a series of double saves, keeping out shots from Mirco Pruijser, Valentin Verga, Bjorn Kellerman, Jorrit Croon, Thierry Brinkman and Mink van der Weerden.

But the resistance was broken when, first, Marc Perellon and then Alvaro Iglesias were shown yellow cards in quick succession for identical fouls with physical challenges on the right baseline.

After the Iglesias foul, van Ass fired a tracer bullet to the bottom left corner of the goal for 1-0 in the 26th minute. Verga’s cross then found its way into the goal off Josep Romeu’s stick, wrong-footing Cortes for 2-0 moments later – a nice reward to mark the Amsterdam man’s 150th cap.

Spain were back to ten after that but the Netherlands continued to make use of their overload of players to win a fourth corner in the 30th minute which Mink van der Weerden planted into the top corner; 3-0 at half-time.

Pruijser compounded Spain’s pain in the moments when he took a typically early shot from van Ass’s pass to add the fourth goal 30 seconds after the restart.

Diego Arana and Pau Quemada combined to pull one back from a breakaway when they got through two on one with Pirmin Blaak.

Verga, however, repeated his earlier trick with a cross from the right finding a defender – this time Sergi Enrique – whose touch ended in his own goal. Bob de Voogd cracked in another before applying a beautifully delicate flick from the left baseline to make it 7-1 with five minutes to go.

Reflecting on the tie, van der Weerden said he had never played in such a big win over Spain before, adding that the capacity crowd helped spur the side on.

“It’s a pleasure to play a tournament like this in your own country. They had two men down for a while when we made it really hard for them. That helped us but it wasn’t all of it. The atmosphere definitely helped.

“That first 25 minutes, we were already playing really well but couldn’t get it in. But we felt in control and were patient enough to keep playing the same game, creating the good chances. The chances were good shots but Quico was fantastic.”

Netherlands – Spain
26’ Seve van Ass 1-0 (pc)
27’ Valentin Verga 2-0
30’ Mink van der Weerden 3-0 (pc)
31’ Mirco Pruijser 4-0
38’ Diego Arana 4-1
47’ Valentin Verga 5-1
52’ Bob de Voogd 6-1
55′ Bob de Voogd 7-1

Umpires: A Kearns (AUS), M Madden (SCO)

Belgium 4 Austria 1 (4-1)
Belgium netted four times in the first half to put themselves on course to a strong win over Austria who made their return to the top tier for the first time since 2009.

Sebastien Dockier broke the deadlock in the fifth minute with a classy volley after a loose clearance fell kindly for Belgium. Cedric Charlier burst into the circle and flicked at goal with Mateusz Szymczyk saving with his shoulder but Dockier snagged the rebound.

Austria replied instantly, however, with Benjamin Stanzl’s crash ball brilliantly dragged into the path of Alexander Bele who gleefully finished off from close range; 1-1 in the seventh minute.

Belgium, however, were not content to sit back and they were right back in front by the tenth minute when Loick Luypaery – on his 26th birthday – slung home a drag-flick, rippling the side-netting in the process.

And the game was put to bed in the four minutes before half-time as Gauthier Boccard set up his captain Thomas Briels who rifled home from the top of the circle.

And Luypaert, this time aiming for the opposite top corner, slung home his second and Belgium’s fourth goal for an imposing half-time lead.

The second half was closer with no further goals accruing. Szymczyk made a brilliant save to keep out Tom Boon while Vincent Vanasch kept out a Michael Korper drag in the last minute to maintain the 4-1 result.

Loick Luypaert said afterwards of the tie: “It’s always difficult to play in your first game. It’s a big event for the young guys, their first time in a big stadium. We were a little bit tense but I think we did a good job and its three points in the bag. Now, we can focus against the game against Holland.

“Austria gave us a good fight and defended really well. They have really good indoor players which shows in the defensive skills.”

And he feels his team is in perfect physical shape to try and take down the Dutch in their next game on Monday evening.

“We had a really good World League 3 with a long preparation. This is our main event and we used that for our preparation for this so everyone is very fit and we will have Manu Stockbroekx back in the next game which will give us a really good push.

“One year ago, we beat them in Rio so they will be keen on revenge, especially in front of their home crowd but we will give them a really good battle.”

Belgium 4 Austria 1
5’ Sebastien Dockier 1-0
7’ Alexander Bele 1-1
10’ Loick Luypaert 2-1 (pc)
27’ Thomas Briels 3-1
30’ Loick Luypaert 4-1 (pc)

Umpires:
B Goentgen (GER), L Zwierzchowski (POL)