10th December 2022: Austria and Germany will contest a classic men’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship final after they got what they needed from a helter-skelter final day of group action.
It means the schedule for Sunday will be headlined by Austria against Germany (14.00 CET) with the Netherlands having to settle for a place in the bronze match against Switzerland.
Switzerland v The Netherlands 5-5
The day opened with Switzerland and the Netherlands playing a high octane 5-5 draw which put a dent in both of their aspirations. The Swiss got off to a flying start with Martin Gredler and Elias Brönnimann scoring in Q1; the Dutch got the next two for 2-2 at half-time.
Lorenz Gassner’s corner restored Switzerland’s lead but it looked like the Dutch were running away with things when they grabbed the next three – Max Sweering, Boris Burkhardt and Bakker finding the target.
With their keeper off, Gaël Wyss Chodat and Michel Morard brought it back level for their second draw of the campaign.
Belgium v Czech Republic 3-2
A Philippe Simar-inspired Belgium got their first win of the competition as they beat the Czech Republic 3-2 to move closer to a potential bronze medal match on Sunday.
He wheeled away on the right sideboard to spin and flick in the first; Lukas Plochy levelled but another glorious piece of skill from Simar was followed by a perfect flick from top of the D for 2-1.
He then finished off some one-touch hockey for a healthy 3-1 lead at half-time. It remained like that through to the 35th minute when Štepan Klaban turned in a Czech goal. Belgium survived a late corner scare to hold on for the win that lifted them to four points and ahead of Switzerland.
Austria v Germany 7-6
The fourth series of games ended with a rollercoaster battle for the ages in which Austria prevailed over arch-rivals Germany 7-6 to book their place in Sunday’s final.
Austria had a great first half as the Sporthalle began to rock with over 3,000 fans packing in. Paul Doesch and Fabian Unterkircher exchanged corner goals in the first quarter before the world number one side got the edge.
Michael Körper flicked in from another corner before Moritz Frey applied the finishing touch following a flowing move down the left. Henrik Mertgens, though, picked out the top corner with a brilliant shot to make it 3-2 at half-time.
Germany produced a brilliant third quarter to swap the lead with sublime skills from Philip Schmid making it level and then Mertgens scored two immaculate goals for 5-3.
But Austria stormed back once again, firing in three corners between the 36th and 39th minutes – Körper completing a hat trick – only for Niklas Bruns to equalise at 6-6.
Körper, though, struck once more to copper-fasten Austria’s place in the final and leave Germany’s fate to go down to the last series of fixtures.
Germany v Czech Republic 9-1
It set up an intriguing final series of matches in the group stages with Germany needing to get a big win against the Czech Republic and then hope it would be enough to see them through to the final.
Their 9-1 success against the Czechs proved just enough; it set the Dutch a target of needing to beat Austria by six goals – they threatened it a few times but eventually the 7-4 scoreline favoured the relieved Germans in the stands.
The 9-1 was a dominant performance in front of a big Saturday evening crowd. Luis Holste set them on their way with a brilliant rising shot; Niklas Bruns tapped in another and Philip Schmid made no mistake from a rebound.
The fourth came from Holste, a route one ball down the middle which he ramped into the net; a Paul Doesch corner extended the lead to five in the 13th minute but then the scoring slowed a little in Q3.
Adrian Lehmann-Richter and Michel Strutthof tacked on two more for 7-0 and Holste’s third continued to extend the target. Lukas Plochy and Bruns traded late goals to set the Dutch an ambitious total of a six-goal win against the unbeaten Austrians.
Netherlands v Austria 7-4
The Dutch made a great fist of it although they were left to rue a couple of missed chances, including a penalty stroke. They led from the seventh minute through Boris Burkhardt and were 4-1 up through Jochem Bakker’s triple by the 17th minute.
That progressed to 5-2 in the final quarter where the watching German fans got some relief when Leon Thörnblom pulled one back. Jeroen Hertzberger and Burkhardt fired in another couple of the three-goal final margin proved good but not good enough.
Belgium v Switzerland 2-3
That left Belgium and Switzerland to dice for the last outstanding prize; a place in the bronze match. It was the Swiss – needing a win – who took the early initiative with Boris Stomps getting his first of the game.
Mallory Magnant equalised to keep the tension at half-time but Switzerland once again came out firing early on. Stomps scored a stroke moments after the restart and then Martin Gredler chipped in a beautiful goal on the run for 3-1.
Laurent Rogger made a series of outstanding saves to keep it that way until Philippe Simar swooped to flick one in with less than three minutes to go. Lorenz Gassner then saved one off the line brilliantly and Rogger charged down a corner as Switzerland clung for the win they needed.
It means the schedule for Sunday will be headlined by Austria against Germany (14.00 CET); Switzerland are up against the Netherlands for bronze at 12.30 and Belgium play the Czech Republic for fifth at 11.00.
You can watch every game of the 2022 EuroHockey Indoor Championships via www.eurohockeytv.org; a €3.99 tournament pass is available for all countries EXCEPT Germany for games involving Germany. those games will be geo-blocked due to live broadcasts on local channels.
Further details here: https://eurohockey.org/2022/11/30/eurohockeytv-to-broadcast-eurohockey-indoor-championships/
Photograph: Germany v Austria (EHF / World Sport pics (c))