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England: England’s perfect shoot-out earns first men’s final spot for 14 years

England’s perfect shoot-out series saw them reach the men’s EuroHockey Championship final for the first time since 2009, and will face the Netherlands who earlier came from behind to beat Belgium, denying the home side and a partisan home crowd.

A nerveless set of five was fittingly completed by David Ames, slapping into the top corner nice and early, giving James Mazarelo the chance to hold up Mats Grambusch and win the shoot-out 5-4.

It came after normal time ended 0-0. The first half was intense with huge chances at either end but nothing registered on the score sheet. Germany had the ball in the net very early on but it was ruled out for taking an initial free in the wrong position.

England defended a quartet of penalty corners before closing twice themselves, with Jean Danneburg saving a deflection move while Zach Wallace’s diving flick at goal was also brilliantly denied.

The Germans stepped on in the second but still could not find a way through the English corner defence with Gonzalo Peillat seeing a number of chances charged down.

Peillat then cleared up a huge chance for England off the line as a bouncing ball between Will Calnan and Sam Ward finished up just shy of the goal line. 

And so the tie went the distance at 0-0 with Germany on the up in the closing moments, but Mats Grambusch’s main chance was well saved by Oliver Payne.

It was all square after four rounds, with all eight shoot-outs going in. Ames put England 5-4 up in the final round, and Mazarelo kept out Grambusch to spark huge celebrations from his side and dejection for most of the home crowd.

James Albery admitted he was “slightly lost for words” after an incredible night for his team.

“Unbelievable game and then to win it in a shoot-out, fantastic, great feeling,” he added. “Zack Jones leading our defensive stuff – he expects the best and that is what we tried to deliver tonight. Conceding zero against them was super impressive. 

“Shoot-outs seems a pretty brutal way to go out after a match like that; definitely not the way we wanted to do it but we will take it. The way we went out of the World Cup to these boys, we definitely didn’t want that to happen again. Credit to all the lads who put in so much work over the months. Super proud for everyone stepping up!”

EuroHockey.org

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