Belfius EuroHockey Championship
Final: Belgium 5 (J-J Dohmen, F van Aubel, T Boon, M Stockbroekx, A Hendrickx) Spain 0

Belgium produced an awesome performance to win their first ever Belfius EuroHockey Championships title as the World Cup winners added another major title to their collection.

The Red Lions produced a rip-roaring start to build a huge 4-0 lead they never looked like relinquishing, sending the sold out crowd into raptures at Wilrijkse Plein.

The Belgians had beaten Spain 5-0 in the first game of the tournament and they produced an identical victory to bookend the tournament with the decibel level going through the roof.

The first few minutes were end to end with Loick Luypaert denied by Quico Cortes while Enrique Gonzalez found a foot in the sixth minute but Arthur van Doren produced an excellent block.

John-John Dohmen fittingly started the ball rolling on the score sheet. He missed last December’s World Cup final through illness but has had a remarkable year in trying to comeback from that, helping Waterloo Ducks win the Euro Hockey League. He guided in Victor Wegnez’s cross for a 10th minute lead.

Spain were not sitting back, however, and they drew the best out of Vincent Vanasch before the end of the quarter.

But the second quarter saw the Red Lions in rampant form, transforming the lead from one to four. Gauthier Boccard delivered an amazing ball from the left wing to Florent van Aubel the chance to tap in a 16th minute second goal.

Two minutes later Tom Boon picked out the top corner with a drag-flick. And they went four to the good with 27 minutes gone when Manu Stockbroekx cut back from the baseline and powered in on his backhand.

In a stirring start to the second half, Xavi Lleonart fizzed a reverse at goal that Vanasch denied while Spain had a number of corners. A couple caused havoc but Belgium managed to mitigate the damage, surviving a video call for a penalty stroke.

But the party got back into gear when Thomas Briels produced an audacious piece of skill to win a corner which Alexander Hendrickx duly dragged in.

Spain did keep plugging away and drew more stops from Vanasch who was in sparkling form once again to maintain his and Belgium’s clean sheet to go with the title and the Olympic ticket.

In the individual awards, Victor Wegnez was named the player of the tournament. The Netherlands’ Jonas de Geus was the Under-21 talent while Vincent Vanasch was a deserving winner of the goalkeeper award.

The top scorer prize was shared on five goals by Tom Boon, Alexander Hendrickx, Mirco Pruijser and Pau Quemada.

“It was a perfect tournament for us, to win the home tournament for the first time in front of our home country is something you just dream of,” said Belgian coach Shane McLeod. “The players have played for years and never got a real chance to hold up that trophy so it is a really special moment.”

He paid tribute to Victor Wegnez, the player of the tournament: “He’s a special kid. Every group has their players who add flavour but this guy is full of everything. He’s so energetic and is really good for our game.

“People come to watch him play and react when he reacts. He wears his heart on his sleeve and people love that. He’s just worked so hard at his game and you see he has become a world class player – speed, power, can score goals when needed and he loves the pressure. As the pressure grows he grows.”

And now the talk will turn to a “grand slam” as they bid to complete the trio of World Cup, Euros and Olympic Games.

“They started doing that as soon as we won the World Cup! It’s so, so difficult to win the Olympic Games. We know that from the last one – we were going pretty well then and you just can’t have anything go against you. We will be doing our very best to have our team playing as good as we can, and usually, that is pretty good.”

Umpires: J Mejzlik (CZE), B Goentgen (GER)

Belgium – Spain
10’ John-John Dohmen (FG) 1-0
17’ Florent van Aubel (FG) 2-0
18’ Tom Boon (PC) 3-0
27’ Manu Stockbroekx (FG) 4-0
39’ Alexander Hendrickx (PC) 5-0

***

Earlier in the day, The Netherlands medaled for the eighth successive European Championships as they showed too much for Germany in the bronze medal match in Antwerp.

Bjorn Kellerman’s first half goal laid the base before Mirco Pruijser and Jeroen Hertzberger made the game safe in the second half, condemning Germany to a second straight fourth place finish.

Read the full match report here

In Pool C, England eased to safety with three first half goals against Scotland giving them the result they needed in Pool C of the men’s Belfius EuroHockey Championships.

Sam Ward fired home from play and a corner either side of an Ashley Jackson goal for a 3-0 advantage they never looked like relinquishing, ending their campaign in fifth place.

Read the full match report here

The result left Scotland with a nervous wait to see if they would stay up but the result did not go their way between the Welsh and Ireland. Wales produced a spectacular win over Ireland – their first against the Green Machine since 2006 – to retain their place in the top tier of European hockey, relegating both Ireland and Scotland in the process.

Two first half penalty corners from Gareth Furlong put them in control and they duly killed of fthe game with further strikes from Dale Hutchinson and Ben Francis.

Read the full match report here

Sunday will be the final day of the Belfius EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp with the Netherlands and Germany set to bring the curtain down on the tournament in style in the women’s final at 16.00 (CET).

The bronze match will be between Spain and England at 13.30 (CET). The Pool C battle sees Ireland and Russia start the day at 09.00 (CET) while Belgium come up against Belarus 11.15 (CET).

 

Todays results

Mens Belfius EuroHockey Championships

Final: Belgium 5 (J-J Dohmen, F van Aubel, T Boon, M Stockbroekx, A Hendrickx) Spain 0

Bronze match: Germany 0 Netherlands 4 (B Kellerman, M Pruijser, J Hertzberger, M van der Weerden)

Pool C: Ireland 0 Wales 4 (G Furlong 2, D Hutchinson, B Francis); England 3 (S Ward 2, A Jackson) Scotland 0

 

Sunday, August 25 match schedule (all times CET; Wilrijkse Plein, Antwerp)

Women’s Belfius EuroHockey Championships

Final: Netherlands v Germany, 16.00

Bronze match: Spain v England, 13.30

Pool C: Ireland v Russia, 09.00; Belgium v Belarus, 11.15