The Netherlands and Belgium set up a repeat of the men’s senior EuroHockey Championships when their respective Under-21 teams made it through to the Junior final in Valencia. In the relegation pool, England assured their safety with Austria and Ireland may yet go down to goal difference for the last space.

Men’s EuroHockey Junior Championships
Semi-final 1: Netherlands 2 (N Schoenaker, B Burkhardt) Germany 1 (L Michler)

Boris Burkhardt enjoyed the perfect birthday present as he netted his tenth goal of the men’s EuroHockey Junior Championships to give the Dutch a coveted final place.

He struck with 17 minutes to go with a quick turn and shot for his 10th goal of the tournament, landing a 2-1 success after earlier goals from Noud Schoenaker and Linus Michler had the game locked at 1-1.

The Netherlands celebrate their first goal against Germany. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Speaking afterwards, the Amsterdam man was delighted with a special day: “We played the whole game as a team, had a lot of chances and it was a very good performance for us. It was nice to do it on my birthday and I love this team so it was a perfect day for me!”

His side had the upper hand for most of the tie and had a number of big chances to break the deadlock in the first quarter. First, Schoenaker broke into the circle before slipping to Thijs van Dam but he could not take advantage, slipping wide from close range.

Terrance Pieters then saw a stroke saved by Alexander Stadler while Teun Beins fired a drag-flick wide. The goal eventually came in the 23rd minute following a lovely run from Schoenaker who subsequently smashed through Stadler’s defences.

Stadler made further good saves from a couple of other corners and a Burkhardt shot as the Dutch controlled the first half but could not move further ahead.

Germany, though, got themselves level out of the blue in the second half when Linus Michler set in motion a great move, working the ball to the right wing where it reached Malte Hellwig. He struck an upright backhand to the left post where Michler had followed up to chip in for 1-1.

Parity only remained for a few minutes, however, as Terrance Pieters and Daniel Aarts popped the ball inside for Burkhardt to apply the finish and make it 2-1.

From there, Germany could not force a comeback and the Dutch held on for their place in Sunday’s final. Dutch Skipper Lars Balk said his side stepped up from their group stage performances with a fine win.

“It was a tough game as it always is against the Germans. I think we played well; in the pool, it wasn’t good and now we had some freedom so it’s going well.”

Who they play in the final, though, will not be found out until much later as the second semi-final between Belgium and Spain was pushed back to 5.30pm due to illness in the Spanish camp.

Balk said he was hopeful of meeting the home hosts given the noise from the stands in their group stage meeting after a well-earned break today.

“We just have to rest, line in our beds and sleep! We will then watch the game in the hotel and I hope Spain win. It’s nice here with the crowd; the atmosphere is perfect, the weather and everything in Valencia so I’m happy.”

Men’s Semi-Final 2: Belgium 1 (A Lemaire) Spain 0

Alexis Lemaire scored the only goal as his penalty stroke earned Belgium a final berth at the men’s EuroHockey Junior Championships in Valencia.They rode their luck in the first half with goalkeeper Charles Masset producing a series of fine saves to keep out the likes of Pol Parilla, Manu Gispert, Xavier Gispert and Marc Escude.

They rode their luck in the first half with goalkeeper Charles Masset producing a series of fine saves to keep out the likes of Pol Parilla, Manu Gispert, Xavier Gispert and Marc Escude.Alexis Le Clef charged down a corner, too, to keep the scoreboard blank at the break. The second half saw Belgium come more into the tie with the driving runs of Nicolas Poncelet a feature, his 3D skills causing havoc along the baseline.

Spain and Belgium line-up pre-match. Pic: Sander Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Alexis Le Clef charged down a corner, too, to keep the scoreboard blank at the break. The second half saw Belgium come more into the tie with the driving runs of Nicolas Poncelet a feature, his 3D skills causing havoc along the baseline.He won the stroke in the 37

He won the stroke in the 37th minute that Lemaire slotted home – his second of the tournament – to put his side in front. From there, Belgium managed the game well, giving away few clean chances as captain Martin Lambeau marshalled his team down the final stretch.

Lemaire was delighted with the outcome after a dramatic day: “Really good result, really good feeling after the game! It was maybe not our best game but we did what we needed to do to get to the final.

“We had a really bad first half, lucky for us our keeper made incredible saves to keep us in the game. The second was better; the intensity was much higher and eventually we scored that one goal. Then we had to defend really hard and even though we took cards, all the guys really put a lot of effort into the defence and that’s what paid off.”

They had to readjust to a new fixture time. The sides were originally scheduled to play at 11am but the game was switched to 5.30pm to allow the Spanish players recover from illness after half their squad were struck with stomach upsets.

As it was, Ignacio Cobos could not play. For Belgium, it also meant adapting to a new plan.

“It was unexpected. We were coming down for briefing and then we were told we had to go back up [to our rooms]. It was a strange day because we didn’t know what to do. We had to refocus and maybe that’s why we didn’t start well but in the end it’s a really good result.”

It was Lemaire’s second stroke of the competition and he admitted he had doubts about where to place the ball.“It’s always difficult to shoot a second one because everyone has the video of what you did. Here, I was kind of nervous because it was 0-0 and I needed to score but I just went for it.”

“It’s always difficult to shoot a second one because everyone has the video of what you did. Here, I was kind of nervous because it was 0-0 and I needed to score but I just went for it.”

Nonetheless, it sets up another final for Belgium having already reached the European senior men’s and women’s finals while their Under-21 women are also in the decider in Valencia.

“It’s great for Belgium; it shows we are growing even if we are a small country. We just need to win one now; we played the final of the Junior World Cup with a silver medal. Now we want more and achieve gold!”

 Sunday 3 September 2017                                                                                       
11.30 Men’s 3rd/4th Germany v Spain Pitch 1 *
17.30 Men’s Final Netherlands v Belgium Pitch 1 *

 

Pool C:
England 7 (W Calnan 4, N Page, E Way, P Scott) Ireland 1 (S Grace);
Austria 13 (J Puchhamer 4, P Schippan 4, O Binder 2, N Wellan, F Unterkircher, P Kaltenbock) Portugal 0

England secured their safety in the top tier of European Under-21 hockey with a powerful 7-1 win over Ireland as Will Calnan continued his high-scoring ways.

Austria, meanwhile, put themselves in great shape to stay up as well thanks to a 13-0 win over Portugal. It means that, barring a 19-goal swing against them on Sunday, they will stay up ahead of Ireland who need to beat Portugal by a big margin to have any hope.

England got off to the best possible start as Calnan scored on the reverse inside the first two minutes. A second followed before the end of the first quarter from a steal on halfway that led to Nick Page turning in Peter Scott’s cross. The English counter-attack was dangerous throughout and they held this 2-0 lead into the half-time break.

Further goals followed in the third quarter when Calnan and Edward Way netted from penalty corners before the fifth arrived early in the fourth quarter. It came while Ireland had withdrawn their goalkeeper in favour of an extra outfielder, chasing potential goals which may prove key on goal difference with Calnan shooting past the unpadded Sam Grace.

Calnan fired in a sixth goal on the backhand and Peter Scott completed their tally in the final minute. Grace did get one back with 1.6 seconds left on the clock.

In the Austria game, three goals from Jakob Puchhammer in the first four minutes put them on course for a mammoth 13-0 win over Portugal. Oliver Binder’s penalty corner made it 4-0 by the seventh minute and the lead was double to eight by half-time as Phillip Schippan scored twice, Puchhammer got a fourth and Peter Kaltenbock also netted.

Five more goals followed in the second half with Schippan bringing his total to four goals with Binder scoring a second while Fabian Unterkircher and Nikolaus Wellan getting the others.

Pool C standings:

  1. England 6pts (+14)
  2. Austria 4pts (+13)
  3. Ireland 1pt (-6)
  4. Portugal 0pts (-21)
Sunday 3 September 2017                                                                                       
09.15 MC England v Austria Pitch 1 *
10.30 MC Ireland v Portugal Pitch 2