6th August 2017: After a full day of play at the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow it’s Ukraine and Russia that sit on top of Pool A and B respectively. But the match of the day was the final game Scotland v France, where Scotland pulled off a decent 2-1 win over the highest ranked team here.
Match 1: Russia 3-2 Switzerland
The first match of Men’s EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow was a 3-2 for Russia over Switzerland in a fantastic encounter to get the tournament underway.
The opening quarter was very evenly-matched with Russia probably edging possession. Switzerland however created the better chances early-doors but found Andrei Ivanov sturdy in the Russian goal. Russia created a couple of opportunities in the second quarter and found Jonas Verest on top form, making a string of good saves to keep the score level.
Then just before half time Switzerland struck and scored a great goal through Jan Hodle. A quick move into the right of the D found Hodle who rattled the ball across the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 1-0
Right after half time Russia issued a very quick response to going a goal down. Sergei Spichkovskii equalised three minutes into the half when he scored from close range after a scramble in the D at a penalty corner.
Russia almost took the lead when a quick break opened up the Swiss defence but Verest in goal for Switzerland was out quickly to make a great diving save to his left.
Russia made it 2-1 soon enough and it came from a penalty corner rifled low on the reverse into the bottom right corner by Konstantin Nikitin.
It was 3-1 in the fourth quarter when Pavel Plesetskii converted for Russia. Switzerland was up for a fight however and Hodle showed tremendous reactions to score from close range to make it 3-2 with four minutes remaining.
The Swiss battled to the end but it was Russia who held on for their first victory of Men’s EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow.
Match 2: Czech Republic 1-2 Wales
Wales won their opening match of the tournament with a competitive 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic.
It was a very tentative opening to the match with both teams examining each other’s tactics and set-up. There were no real chances for either side but it was the Welsh who enjoyed the majority of possession.
As the half grew older Wales found their groove but the Czech Rep backline did a good job to counter the Welsh attack.
Wales took a deserved lead when Gareth Furlong converted from a penalty corner. It was teed up nice for Furlong and he hammered it into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0 to Wales.
It was 2-0 just before half time. The attack started deep but Wales tore forward at great pace down the left. The ball was cut back for James Kyriakides who finished neatly to put his side two up.
Into the second half and Wales continued to dictate the play, causing particular problems down the left.
Czech Republic won a penalty corner and made it count. The Czechs had to be patient as the ball bobbled around the D but Michel Barta was clinical and fired the ball home to make it 2-1.
A very competitive end to the match saw Wales hold tight to a 2-1 lead for victory.
Match 3: Ukraine 7-2 Portugal
It was a nine-goal thriller between Ukraine and Portugal with Ukraine rattling home seven goals in a highly entertaining game.
Ukraine started the stronger of the two playing an aggressive powerful blend of attacking hockey.
It was Portugal who had the first chance to score, a penalty corner was well saved at the bottom left corner.
Ukraine were rewarded for their forward play with an early goal through Dymtro Lupa slammed home from a penalty corner. Lupa found the bottom right corner to put Ukraine 1-0 up.
Portugal were under the cosh as the first quarter came to a close but did well to stay in the match as Ukraine piled on the pressure.
Ukraine doubled their advantage in the second quarter when a penalty stroke was awarded. Andrii Koshelenko found the top left corner to make it 2-0.
Portugal battled back into the match in the third quarter. They were rewarded by an absolutely spectacular goal. Pedro Pinto blasted an unstoppable strike into the top left corner of the net to make it 2-1.
Ukraine restored their two goal lead through an equally spectacular goal. Bohdan Kovalenko was at full stretch at the far post to slam dunk the ball home to make it 3-1.
It was 4-1 from a penalty corner when Viacheslav Paziuk thundered the ball into the top corner. A fifth goal came from a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter – Paziuk with the strike again.
Portugal pulled one back when Vasco Ribeiro finished from a tight angle to make it 5-2. Then a penalty flick for Ukraine had Koshelenko fire it into the roof of the net for 6-2. Oleh Polishchuk made it 7-2 towards the end to complete the scoring.
Match 4: Scotland 2-1 France
Scotland defeated France, the highest-ranked team in Men’s EuroHockey Championship II, 2-1 to get their tournament off to a winning start on home soil. A heroic goalkeeping performance and clinical finishing ensured it was Scotland’s day in front of an excellent home support.
It was a very even opening to the match with both teams working to stifle the other. However it was the French who managed to create the first clear openings of the match.
A great save denied France the opening goal. The French tore into the Scots D from the right and cut it back for the rushing attackers but Tommy Alexander saved the ball from point blank range, padding it high into the air.
Then Alexander was on hand again to save from point blank range with his leg guards as France pressed for the opener.
Scotland then settled into the match in the second quarter, playing quick hockey. Alan Forsyth and Kenny Bain combined well but found the French defence well marshalled.
Still France looked dangerous and Alexander was again called into making a top save from a penalty corner, saving well with his legs from a low and hard strike at goal.
Then Scotland opened the scoring. Jamie Wong took the ball out wide on the right and fizzed it into the D for Kenny Bain who deflected it home to make it 1-0.
An improvised Scotland penalty corner saw Lee Morton crack a hard shot towards the bottom corner but it hit a Scots foot and France survived.
Then a French attack took advantage of some slack defending but Alexander was on hand to make another excellent reaction save.
As the third quarter progressed the French were piling on the pressure. Scotland hit them on the break, Morton showed some tremendous skill to open the French defence and the ball found its way to Alan Forsyth who finished from close range. 2-0.
France continued to attack and Alexander was prompted into a simply outstanding save. On the ground he managed to cover his top left corner and save to keep his clean sheet intact.
Bain nearly scored a third at the start of the final quarter was crowded out in the D in front of goal.
Alexander then made a world-class save when France was awarded a penalty flick. The flick was arrowing for the top left corner before Alexander made a heroic save to put the ball over the bar.
The French did manage to pull one back as the match reached a close when Simon Martin-Brisac converted expertly from close range. It made for a nervy last few minutes for the Scots but it was Scotland’s day and they got off to a winning start on home soil.
Photograph: Duncan Gray (c)
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