Unterkircher underlines Austria’s incredible men’s Euro Indoor journey to gold

Posted On 11/12/2022

Sunday 11th December: Austria won the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship for the third time as Fabian Unterkircher from a classic tactical battle, grabbing a 2-1 win over Germany at the Hamburg Sporthalle.
It played out in front of over 3,200 fans, bringing the noise for the final action of a thrilling week; a battle in stark contrast to their Saturday group meeting goalfest which ended 7-6 to the Austrians.
Germany v Austria 1-2
This one was cagey and tight-knit with chances at a premium. Germany controlled the ball for the first quarter and had the one moment of real penetration when Hendrik Mertgens was blocked illegally. Captain Paul Doesch’s stroke just about snuck in off Mateusz Szymczyk’s pads.
Oliver Binder hit the post at the far end while Michael Körper had a rare day where he was unable to find the target. Luis Holste was just shy on power from a key chance and Anton Boeckel also hit the Austrian goalkeeper.
The leveler arrived in the 18th minute when Binder produced a subtle drop-off pass to Unterkircher who whipped it toward the top corner with goalkeeper Anton Brinckman only getting a half touch on it en route to the net.
Niklas Bruns was the next to go within inches of the goal, his sliding touch slipping off target in the final quarter. Two Austrian corners were shut down by the German defence but it was third time lucky as Unterkircher dummied a switch move before shooting himself into the net, confirming his player of the tournament title.
Captain Xaver Hasun found it hard to sum up how special it was: “It’s fantastic! To be honest, in this moment, I am quite speechless – it’s brilliant. Doing it in this hall, in Germany, in Hamburg – a real hockey city – it’s brilliant for us.
Reflecting on the game, he said it was a typical final compared to the more open group stage meeting between the top two in the world.
“It’s always clear you are nervous in a game like this. Everyone is trying not to make any mistakes; we did it quite well. In the end, we could have scored a few more but Germany could as well. The whole tournament and also in this game, I think we deserved it and are very happy!”
As for Unterkircher, Hasun said we are witnessing a generational talent: “He’s not a bad indoor hockey player is he! He’s talent for the next few years and everyone will be happy to watch him and his personal reward was really well deserved!”
Netherlands v Switzerland 10-3
Earlier, The Netherlands landed bronze for the second successive edition following a comprehensive 10-3 win over Switzerland.
The Swiss were hoping to win a medal for the first time since 2003 but they came unstuck early on and were never able to get a foothold in the tie.
The Dutch dominated the first half with Boris Burkhardt scoring a glorious shot on the spin; Wiegert Schut finished off a lovely team move and Jochem Bakker found an acute angle from the left baseline for 3-0.
Max Sweering added a stroke and Nicki Leijs was on target from a corner for a 5-0 lead before Switzerland rallied just before the break. Martin Gredler applied a perfect first-time finish to get on the scoreboard while Boris Stomps had a goal initially given but then disallowed with a diving flick.
Fabio Reinhard continued that momentum with an early goal in the second half but the Dutch raced away again in Q3 with goals from Sweering, Burkhardt and Jasper Tukkers, 9-2.
And they closed out the win without too much hassle, Bakker netting his 12th goal of the tournament to help them hit double figures.
He said afterwards he was happy the team “finished the tournament this way. We could have done more but we let it slip in the game against the Swiss so it is what it is but happy it how it end.
“We started with a lot more energy than yesterday. That was the key for us, play with energy, play with guts.
“We had a tournament of ups and downs, some good games, some bad parts but that’s what it is. Really enjoyed it. Before the tournament, we said we wanted a medal and the colour will be determined by performances!”
Belgium v Czech Republic 9-7 
In the fifth-sixth playoff, Philippe Simar scored an incredible seven times to help Belgium to a 9-7 win over the Czech Republic, putting him in the mix of the top scorer prize.
It brought his total to 20 for the tournament, including 15 from play, as they finished their tournament on a high note. His side were on the front foot for most of the first half with Simar’s three first half goals helping them lead 4-2 at half-time.
A trio of Czech goals in the third quarter saw them lead briefly at 5-4 but another four from Simar in the last 12 minutes propelled them to the win despite the best efforts of Lukas Plochy who finished with four goals to his name
Keep an eye on the EuroHockey channels during the week as we confirm the entrants for the 2024 EuroHockey Indoor Championships.
All games are available to rewatch on www.eurohockeytv.org 

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