10th December 2022: Germany won the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship title for the 16th time as they won a barnstorming final in front of an enraptured Sporthalle Hamburg crowd of over 3,500.
Germany v The Netherlands 5-4
On an emotional evening, they held off the Netherlands in a dramatic 5-4 victory, providing the perfect send-off to legends like Janne Muller-Wieland, Franzisca Hauke and Lisa Altenburg.
The final win came hot on the heels of a dramatic late 1-0 win for Ukraine over Austria to land the bronze medal, providing another tear-enduing moment for the capacity crowd.
In the final, the Netherlands got off to the perfect start, Lieke van Wijk scoring in the second minute after a flurry of three penalty corners. They largely had the best of the first quarter with Gabrielle Mosch almost stealing at the near post while Germany always had a threat by Alexandra Heerbaart was able to deny Pia Maertens.
Seconds into Q2, though, Maertens – who was later named player of the tournament – did have her goal when she was gifted a chance close in from a loose defensive pass, gleefully finishing off.
The Dutch returned to the lead before Noor de Baat – the other main contender for player of the tournament – brilliantly broke through from midfield to lay the ball on a plate for Pam Imhof to finish off, 2-1.
And the Dutch held that advantage by the skin of their teeth into half-time. Lisa Altenburg shaved the outside of the post with one shot and was then tripped by Heerbaart outside the circle, leading to a corner and a yellow card for the goalkeeper.
That corner hit a body on the line for a stroke but Altenburg could not find the target with Julia Remmerswaal coming off the bench.
That equaliser did come two minutes into the second half with Maertens again getting the finish from her trademark position in the left corner, dodging out of danger and then firing under the goalkeeper.
She put her side in front for the first time with her third goal, this time from further out but in the same corner, Altenburg setting her up with great move.
Donja Zwinkels scored instantly from the restart to make it 3-3 before Germany made their big move. Altenburg scored from a corner and it was 5-3 with seven minutes left when she picked up a long ball for her 14th goal of the tournament.
Zwinkels squeezed in another with 100 seconds left and then the Dutch won an overtime penalty corner. Natalie Kubalski confirmed her place as goalkeeper of the tournament with a strong block to confirm the gold.
Muller-Wieland summed up the mood: “It was a rollercoaster but that is the kind of final you want to play, right? You don’t want to win by a few goals – you want it to be tight as this was.
“Everyone celebrated for 20 seconds before we realised there was another corner and know their corners are really good! Our goalkeeper [Kubalski] was unbelievable once again! It was kind of nice to have those emotions twice and then the second time being even bigger!”
Austria v Ukraine 0-1
Ukraine was the emotional winner of the bronze medal with a 1-0 success over Austria with just Oksana Ponomarenko’s 39th minute goal separating the teams.
It was a titanic battle with two well organised defences offering up very few chances. Austria got the only corners of the match in the first half but could not get through the defences of Alina Fadieieva.Stella van Rahden matched those efforts with a slick glove-save in the third quarter as the game started to open up. Miriam Gëro drew the best from Fadieieva while Yuliia Shevchenko shot just wide in Q3.
It kept it scoreless going into the last phase where Olha Honcharenko hit the post with a backhand shot and Shevchenko once again was centimetres from breaking the deadlock.
As it was, the vital goal arrived when Yevheniia Moroz fired a ball down the right board to Honcharenko. She squared perfectly for Ponomarenko to sweep into an open goal. Speaking afterwards, Moroz said: “We are really excited, really happy – we were not just playing for a medal today but also for the Ukrainian people. Most of our team doesn’t have a European medal like this so it’s a really big deal for us.
“We didn’t expect so many people to be supporting us like that. It was such a fantastic atmosphere so thank you to everyone.”
Czech Republic v Türkiye 5-0
The Czech Republic closed out their campaign with a strong 5-0 win over Türkiye, taking fifth place with the Turks first ever participation at this level ending in sixth spot.
Lucie Duchková’s shot from the right edge of the circle started the ball rolling and was added to by one from Adela Lehovcova in the second quarter. Duchková matched that with another set piece goal in Q3 before Nikol Babicka’s intercept and finish in the circle and an Anna Vorlova effort completed the win.
For the Czechs, it meant a strong finish to the campaign with their best performance with the youthful Duchková and Natálie Hájková showing they are ones to watch for the future.
Türkiye can reflect on a big learning experience. Three times, they were within one goal of a result but could not convert those moments into tangible outcomes.
Nonetheless, Perihan Çinar’s six goals and the skills of Fatma Songül Gültekin were a joy to behold throughout the week.
Photographs: Germany winners and an emotional Ukraine (EHF / World Sport pics (c))