Friday, July 19, 2024

EuroHockey classic for the ages: Belgium beat Germany in Antwerp epic

Antwerp – Belgium 4 Germany 2

So, a handball in a major sporting semi-final went against Germany as Belgium memorably, brilliantly and ruthlessly reached their third EuroHockey final in four editions, played out in front of a raucous home crowd who bayed for more – and got four. This was Belgium-mania.

Germany were 2-0 up, leading with classic German efficiency, hurting Belgium against the run of play. Before the tide turned in a super third quarter. Before Germany capitulated under the wave of late circle penetration to earn a shot at a first continental title against Spain on Sunday, a day Antwerp may well be deserted after this epic.

Nicolas de Kerpel told The Hockey Paper afterwards: “It wasn’t that we had to change at half-time. It was a little wake up call and to win the 50-50 battles and once the crowd came behind us, it was unstoppable and this was the most craziest experience I’ve ever had.”

And for the crowd, too. After Spain’s dismantling of Holland, and the opening quarter here, there was the prospect of both world finalists falling short of the final. But that Bhubaneswar win has instilled some resolve in the Belgian camp.

They hit the post early in the contest and then saw Christopher Rhur and Florian Fuchs give Germany a cushion at the break.

Belgium’s early PC salvos weren’t firing – Alexander Henrickx wasn’t on song – which kept the multiple Euro champs in the hunt, as did Viktor Aly in Germany’s goal. But a penalty stroke decision went against them.

Victor Wegnez celebrates in style PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS

Belgium edged possession, circle entries and penalty corners through the match. And finally pressure told when Tom Boon finally found the backboard in the 42nd minute. Cue hysteria.

Germany still had resolve and a PC at the other end nearly regained the two-goal cushion. But a replay showed a German hand on the injection trap and the crowd responded with jeers.

The atmosphere had been raised and Belgium immediately broke up field, winning a PC and de Kerpel netted with six minutes left. The circle was now as much a magnet as a tourist to Belgian chocolate.

The players were abuzz. Victor Wegnez won a corner and punched the air like a crazed boxer might after a heavyweight knockdown. There was time for acrobatics in the Belgian circle as Germans went airborne with a loose ball.

But Wegnez scored moments later to more cacophony. It was a stunning reverse strike. The game was up. But not before another crazed Wegnez run. And when Cedric Charlier tapped into an open net, German shoulders dropped and ushered in one of the most memorable of EuroHockey matches. Incredible.

  • We will have full reports, colour and analysis in our September issue. Subscribe now!

Total Hockey



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More from Author

Hockey Pro League: Ruthless Australia men put Great Britain to the sword

London -- No Blake Govers, no bother for Australia. The Kookaburras...

Australia Hockey GK on Kookaburra deal: ‘Pull behind Australian public finally got traction for us’

Some 30 years after Kookaburra Sport originally partnered with Hockey Australia...

- A word from our sponsors -