Match 1: Netherlands 4 (L Leurink 2, C van Maasakker, F Matla) Ireland 0
A double from Laurien Leurink along with goals from Caia van Maasakker and Frédérique Matla did the damage for the world number ones as they got the best of Ireland 4-0 in a repeat of the 2021 World Cup final.
Margot van Geffen had fired the first warning shot inside 45 seconds but the Green Army responded quickly. Some sweet interplay at the head of the D saw Mullan pick out Anna O’Flanagan and but for the faceguard of goalkeeper Josine Koning, Ireland would have had a shock lead.
The Dutch, however, capitalised on a loose defensive clearance in the ninth minute as Laura Nunnink pinched possession and drew a penalty stroke from Róisín Upton. Caia van Maasakker – in her 200th appearance – netted from the spot.
Moments later, Leurink got on the end of Felice Albers’ pull-back from the right and Ireland were two behind.
A Frédérique Matla drag-flick extended the advantage to 3-0 before half-time. Ireland were more compact in the second half and made life difficult for the Dutch.
The fourth goal, though, did arrive with Leurink credited with the last touch after a goalmouth scramble.
Afterward, player of the match Maria Verschoor was thrilled to play in a buzzing atmosphere: “We are glad we can finally start this European Championship and that we won. It is so nice to be a stadium that is crowded, getting to play in front of the audience. It is so different to play with all of this cheering us on and you could see our excitement on the pitch!
Netherlands – Ireland 4-0 (3-0)
9’ 1-0 Caia van Maasakker (PS)
14’ 2-0 Laurien Leurink (FG)
25’ 3-0 Frédérique Matla (PC)
44’ 4-0 Laurien Leurink (FG)
Umpires: L Delforge (BEL), S Bockelmann (GER)
Match 2: Spain 4 (L Riera, L Jimenez, G Oliva, A Magaz) Scotland 1 (E Dark)
A breathtaking three goals in five minutes at the start of the second half saw Spain run up a confident 4-1 win against newly promoted Scotland to get their campaign up and running in style.
Lola Riera got the only goal of the first half when she ripped home a penalty corner down the right channel. Spain looked well placed to add a few more but had to settle for one in the first half as Amy Costello brilliantly batted another Riera shot off the line.
Scotland for their part had big chances too with Charlotte Watson’s seering run through the middle ultimately denied by Maria Ruiz who had also repelled a Sarah Robertson shot.
But the second half was a different story as the goals began to flow. Lucia Jimenez got the perfect touch to ramp Gigi Oliva’s hard pass into the circle right into the top corner, a sublime touch that gave the goalkeeper no chance.
A minute later, Oliva slapped in a direct shot from a corner to make it 3-0 and it was 4-0 in the 36th minute. Bea Perez produced some quick words with her hands to flip the ball right to Alicia Magaz and she picked out the top corner with style and grace.
Scotland did get one back with 12 minutes to go from a corner as Emily Dark’s hit found its way through Melanie Garcia’s defences.
But it was Spain who were celebrating a great win and Oliva was thrilled after a tough build-up phase.
“We have been really looking forward to compete because it has been two years but with this result and the hockey we played, we enjoyed it a lot, really happy.
“Our preparation was a little bit weird, like everyone I guess, because we had to take advantage of everything we had. We had to play against men’s teams because we couldn’t travel due to corona but I think we put a lot of effort into the details and we have to be confident with what we had done.”
Spain – Scotland 4-1 (1-0)
8’ 1-0 Lola Riera (PC)
31’ 2-0 Lucia Jimenez (FG)
32’ 3-0 Georgina Oliva (FG)
36’ 4-0 Alicia Magaz (FG)
48’ 4-1 Emily Dark (PC)
Umpires: A Keogh (IRL), I Amorosini (ITA)
All games will be streamed on www.eurohockeytv.org (GEO blocking in Belgium, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales)
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Official Website: https://rabo-eurohockeychampionships2021.com/
Official #: #EHC2021
Photographs: EHF / World Sport pics (c)