25.08.2015; Irish eyes smile as semi-finalists are decided.

Pool A

RUS v NED 0-5 (0-4)
ENG v ESP 4-0 (2-0)

Pool B

GER v FRA 7-2 (3-0)
BEL v IRL 2-2 (0-1)

With the final men’s pool matches played today, the semi-final line-up is decided. Pool A winners Netherlands will take on the surprise package, Ireland, while Germany – as Pool B winners – will face host nation England.

While the line-ups for the semi-finals make the headline news from day five at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships, it is the history-making Irish team who are the talk of the town. Davey Harte and his team held on for draw against Belgium – last year’s finalists and the world number four team – and thus claimed their place in the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

In the other matches, England delighted the home crowd with a supremely confident 4-0 win over Spain; the Netherlands made short work of Russia; and Germany continued their imperious march towards retaining their title.

In the first match of the day, Germany displayed confidence and class to ease past France in a 7-2 win to top Pool B, and progress to the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships. Braces from Mortiz Furste and Florian Fuchs helped Germany on their way to victory.

Meanwhile the French side will remain disappointed at losing all three of their games in the Championships, but can take optimism from their goal scoring efforts. Simon Martin-Brissac, who scored both French goals said: “We are quite happy because we played good hockey and we scored two goals, which is good against Germany because they have a very good defence and these are the first goals they have conceded. Now our target is to stay at this level, so the two most important games are coming and we have to stay focused.”

The match between Belgium and Ireland could not have been closer. Possession, shots on target and final scoreline were all evenly matched, but a draw was always enough for Ireland. Florent van Aubel summed up his team’s tournament so far: “Its really unfortunate we didn’t play well against Germany in the first game. Against France it was better but it was still not good enough, and today again we made progress but it’s just not good enough. We have to do a lot better if we want to compete with the top teams.”

In the third match of the day, the Netherlands sealed top spot in Pool A with a commanding performance against Russia. The world’s number two put eight past Russia, but such was the manner of their victory that you didn’t feel the team in orange ever really hit top gear.

The crowds poured in for the final game, as host nation England faced lower-ranked Spain. The game was a fizzing affair, with both teams creating chances but it was England who made the most of their chances and sealed second spot in the pool.

And so the stage is set for a fascinating series of semi-finals and classification matches. Hertberger of the Netherlands said: “It’s going to be tough against the Irish. They really play as a team and with their hearts so it will be a really tough match.”

In the fifth to eight play-offs, Spain will play the ever-improving French side, while Belgium will need to overcome their disappointment to beat a Russian team seeking a barn-storming end to their tournament.

– See more at: http://eurohockey2015.co.uk/irish-eyes-smile-as-semi-finalists-are-decided/#sthash.3DBCOYaN.dpuf

GER v FRA

BEL v IRL

RUS v NED

ENG v ESP