Women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships (Prague, January 20): The Netherlands will face Germany in the final of the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships in Prague following nine-goal semi-final battles against Czech Republic and Belarus, respectively.

Both the Dutch – despite a loss to Switzerland – and the Germans did enough to top their groups in the morning with the Czechs and Belarus also winning their last pool match to move through.

Germany’s Pia Grambusch celebrates. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics/EHF

The reigning champion Dutch side then beat the hosts 6-3 with Pien van Nes, Marijn Veen and Felice Albers all scoring twice. Germany were 5-4 winners over Belarus, building a 5-2 lead off the back of Pia Grambusch’s hat trick before withstanding a huge comeback.

In the relegation pool, Poland have already been eliminated but it is all to play for between Switzerland, Ukraine and Russia to see who avoids the dreaded drop on Sunday morning.

Match reports
Pool A
Match 9: Netherlands 2-3 (1-1) Switzerland

Despite a 3-2 loss, the Netherlands did enough in their game against Switzerland to ensure they would advance to the final four with a greater goal difference. It was a great battle from the start with Stephanie Wälti putting the Swiss in front only for Mila Muyselaar to equalise on the half-time whistle. Wälti restored the lead in the 22nd minute before Felice Albers made it 2-2 with six minutes left. But Switzerland summoned an excellent counter for Karin Bugmann to flick in for a famous win. It gave them a fighting chance of reaching the semi-finals.

Match 10: Belarus 5-2 (2-0) Poland
Belarus got the win they needed to edge Switzerland out of second place in the group with a composed win over Poland. Yuliya Mikheichyk and Nadzeya Silitskaya put them two up at the break before Maryna Nikitsina made it 3-0. Paulina Grotek got one back for Poland but late goals from Nastassia Syrayezhka and Krestina Papkova meant they were never really under pressure.

Pool B
Match 11: Ukraine 1-2 (1-0) Czech Republic

Adela Lehovcova, for a second successive game, scored a late corner to give the hosting Czech Republic victory, powering them through to the semi-finals. Yana Vorushylo netted the only goal of the first half from a corner to give Ukraine a chance of getting the win they needed to go through but Lehovcova equalised in the 28th minute and then applied the crucial finish for the winner in the 38th minute, sending the Czechs through with two wins out of three.

Match 12: Germany 4-2 (2-0) Russia
Two goals in each from Germany, underpinned by an Alisa Vivot double, sent Germany through to the evening’s semi-finals as Pool B winners. Vivot and Julia Meffert scored in the first half; Russia came back into it when Bogdana Sadovaia found the net from a corner. Pia Grambusch and Vivot, however, made the game safe with two goals in quick succession, rendering Sadovaia’s goal as a mere consolation.

Pool C
Match 13: Poland 1-4 (0-2) Russia

Russia started off the relegation pool on the front foot with an excellent 4-1 win over Poland, a result that would see the Poles relegated to the second tier for 2020. Svetlana Eroshina and Bogdana Sadovaia – with her third goal of the day – stretched out a confident first half lead. Weronika Wessolowska halved the gap but that margin only lasted one minute before Valeriia Borisova scored twice in a couple of minutes to race into a 4-1 lead.

Match 14: Switzerland 2-2 (1-1) Ukraine
Yana Vorushylo’s last second equaliser pegged back Switzerland and meant that it is all to play for on Sunday morning in the race to avoid relegation. Yuliia Shevchenko had given Ukraine the lead only for Stephanie Wälti and Sofie Stomps to turn the game on its head. It was a 2-1 lead they held until the final play. Both move on to four points in total with the Swiss set to play Russia on Sunday, knowing a draw will see them safe. Ukraine need to avoid a heavy defeat against already relegated Poland.

Donja Zwinkels on the attack for the Netherlands. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics/EHF

Semi-final 1
Match 15: Germany 5-4 (3-2) Belarus

Germany’s first half corner efficiency put them on course for a final berth as they beat Belarus in a cracking tie. Pia Grambusch roofed a corner in the fourth minute to get the ball rolling; Ryta Batura matched her effort – via a defender’s body – to level a minute later and Luisa Steindor and a carbon-copy from Grambusch built a 3-1 lead.

Batura once again replied, making it 3-2 at half-time, all coming from corners. Grambusch completed her hat trick with the first from play, a fine finish from a counter on the right side of the circle. Amelie Wortmann forced home when Belarus made a mess of a clearance as Germany threatened to race clear.

Back came the Belarussians with Yuliya Mikheichyk’s stroke and Sviatlana Bahushevich’s first time shot giving them four minutes to find an equaliser. It did not come as Rosa Kruger kept out a last second corner scramble and Germany had their final place.

Semi-final 2
Match 16: Netherlands 6-3 (4-2) Czech Republic

Two goals each from Pien van Nes, Marijn Veen and Felice Albers meant the Netherlands title defence rolls on into the final as they beat the hosts 6-2. Van Nes started the scoring after an end-to-end opening with a low corner shot. Veen extended the lead with a sharp finish following some strong offensive pressing. Katerina Lacina’s corner pulled one back but a van Nes stroke pushed the lead out to 3-1.

Albers got the next but Barbora Haklova kept the Dutch honest when they she got a deflected corner to reduce the deficit to 4-2. Adela Lehovcova’s stroke in the 22nd minute put just one in the gap but a quick reply from Veen with a popped finish from close range. Albers then raced out of defence to score into an open goal in the final minute to close out the win.

Sunday schedule

21 Jan 10:00 17 Ukraine Poland Upcoming Pool C
11:10 18 Switzerland Russia Upcoming Pool C
13:00 19 Belarus Czech Republic Upcoming 3rd/4th Place
14:30 20 Germany Netherlands Upcoming Final

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