Belfius EuroHockey Championships
Men’s Pool B
Germany 2 (T Herzbruch, L Windfeder) Netherlands 3 (M Pruijser, B Bakker, T Brinkman)

Thierry Brinkman finished off an outstanding team move to score the vital goal in a thrilling 3-2 victory for the Netherlands over Germany to secure the first semi-final spot from men’s Pool B in Antwerp.

The Dutch led three times in a pulsating contest that flowed from end-to-end at real pace as two of the main title contenders showed what they can do. Mirco Pruijser and Timm Herzbruch exchanged first half goals before Billy Bakker and Lukas Windfeder did likewise in the third quarter, laying the base for Brinkman’s memorable winner.

The first quarter was predominantly in favour of the Oranje with Mirco Pruijser and Jeroen Hertzberger lurking with intent but not able to make any inroads on the score sheet.

That changed in the 21st minute when Mirco Pruijser latched onto a mistake out of defence from Christopher Ruhr, gifting the ball to the forward to rocket in a reverse-stick shot.

The lead only lasted a few minutes as Niklas Wellen’s attempted shot was impeded by Lars Balk, giving Timm Herzbruch the chance to score from the penalty spot which he duly took.

Chances continued to flow but it remained 1-1 at half-time. Billy Bakker restored the Dutch advantage with 20 minutes to go, clipping into an open goal after an excellent pull-back from Pruijser who had an excellent game.

Again, the lead only lasted for a few minutes as Lukas Windfeder ripped a corner push along the ground and past the goalkeeper for 2-2, setting up a big final quarter.

There, the game was settled in glorious fashion via Brinkman. Sander Baart produced an excellent long ball from the back to Pruijser; he controlled and dropped the ball under his arm to Bjorn Kellerman with the circle opening up for him. He chose to lay off to Brinkman who gleefully swept in for 3-2 with nine minutes to go.

And that was the last of the scoring as Germany pushed forward, winning a corner but the Dutch defence held firm for a big result that puts them through to the semis no matter how they do against Scotland.

Star man Pruijser said it was a great performance from his side: “The intensity pleased us most this evening. The high energy, the good rhythm and ball speed – a very good match.

“We grew into the match, doing really well in quarter two and three. It wasn’t that high in the beginning so in the next game we will need to start better.”

While they already have a semi-final spot in the bank, Pruijser wants to see the side continue their upward progression.

“Against Scotland, we will approach it in the same way. We want to grow in the tournament like we did compared to yesterday and, on Tuesday, we want to rise again.”

Germany, meanwhile, need a win or draw against Ireland on Tuesday to advance.

Umpires: F Vazquez (ESP), J Mejzlik (CZE)

Germany – Netherlands
21’ Mirco Pruijser (FG) 0-1
25’ Timm Herzbruch (PS) 1-1
40’ Billy Bakker (FG) 1-2
42’ Lukas Windfeder (PC) 2-2
51’ Thierry Brinkman (FG) 2-3