France are all but mathematically assured of promotion back to the boys top tier of Under-18 EuroHockey Championship hockey following a big 5-0 win over Ukraine in Alanya.
In Swansea, meanwhile, Italy and the Czech Republic are the two sides vying for the other ticket to the top thanks to their semi-final wins over Switzerland and Wales, respectively.
The Championship in Krefeld was on a rest day on Friday but will return with the semi-finals on Saturday along with the classification matches.
** Get your U18’s LIVESTREAM PASS for Krefeld HERE: https://www.eurohockeytv.org/en-int/page/event-pass-u18-championships
EuroHockey U18 Championship II-A (Alanya, Türkiye)
France all but took the boys EuroHockey U118 Championship II-A title in Alanya as they defeated their nearest rivals Ukraine 5-0.
It means, barring a crazy swing in goal-scoring fortunes on the final day of competition on Saturday, they will have their promotion confirmed to the top division for 2025.
Facing the other side with a 100% record, the French started off strong with Gaspard Denis netting in the 10th minute. The tournament’s current top scorer Arthur Morcrette added one more in both the second and third quarters to bring his tally to 11 goals in four games,
And, in the closing 12 minutes, Guillaume Piole and Malo Martinache extended the advantage out, putting them in an almost unassailable position in the six-team group.
Croatia got their second win of the competition with a 7-1 victory over Bulgaria in the second game of the day. Andrej Zidanić gave them a second minute lead but it was not until the third quarter when the goals began to fully flow.
Luka Aleksić and Domagoj Hrupec got a pair each while Bulgaria’s reply came in the last minute from Aleks Angelov.
Türkiye moved level with Ukraine on points but are one behind on goal difference and so will need a win their final game to move second. That is because they won 6-0 against Finland in an impressive showing.
Hüseyin Epengin and Mehmet Aydin put the Turks 2-0 up in the first half and then a flurry of goals around the three quarter mark stretched the lead to five. Epingen completed the win in the final minute.
The tournament concludes on Saturday with France opening the day against Croatia with a point or better formally confirming the title for the former.
Finland and Bulgaria will hope to get off the mark when they meet in game two while second place will be determined by the last fixture between hosts Türkiye and Ukraine.
EuroHockey U18 Championship II-B (Swansea, Wales)
The Czech Republic and Italy will contest the final on Saturday with gold and promotion on the line following their respective wins over Wales and Switzerland, respectively, in the semi-finals.
The Czechs were the first to reach the final as they produced a top class performance to deny hosts Wales with two goals each from Adam Holík and captain Matyáš Hána.
Vojtech Troníček and Adam Starling exchanged goals in the first six minutes before the Czechs took control with two Holík goals in the second quarter. Hána’s first made it 4-1 with 20 minutes to go and while Adam Thwaite cut the gap, the hosts had to settle for a third place playoff on Saturday afternoon.
The second semi-final was even more thrilling with Italy leading twice but ultimately being taken all the way to a shoot-out. There, they held their nerve to win 3-2 with Leonardo Arzenton scoring the vital effort.
In normal time, Valerio Iossa put the Italians in front just before half-time but Pascal Gremlich cancelled that out before the big break. Iossa repeated the trick just after the sides returned to action but Fritz Eickhoff this time got the leveller for 2-2.
That sent the tie to a shoot-out which went back and forth, going level at 2-2 after four rounds. In round five, the Swiss were denied while Arzention scored for a place in the final.
In Pool C, Lithuania beat Luxembourg 2-0 to get their first win of the week. If they win on against Slovakia on Saturday, they will finish in fifth place overall.
** All games from Swansea will be streamed on www.eurohockeytv.org