Belgium won a men’s EuroHockey medal for the third successive tournament as their defensive rigidity and attacking prowess saw them defeat hosts Germany 2-0 at the SparkassenPark.
The Red Lions were inspired in the first half and built that lead. Felix Denayer hit the crossbar and Alexander Hendrickx had a shot saved off the line by Johannes Grosse before they broke the deadlock in the 15th minute through Nelson Onana.
Loick Luypaert applied all the pace and the tall striker just gave it a lift to leave Alexander Stadler standing.
And they got a deserved second goal before half-time when John-John Dohmen’s ball into the middle was half-time stopped by Florent Van Aubel who then pounced onto the second chance to lift the ball in.
The second half was tighter but it was Belgium who still looked the more likely to add to their tally with Nico de Kerpel volleying onto the crossbar.
Mats Grambusch went closest for Germany which, along with Gonzalo Peillat’s corner in the last minute, was brilliantly saved by Loic Van Doren to retain the Belgian clean sheet.
Florent Van Aubel was named player of the match and he was immensely proud of his side’s resilience.
“It is always difficult to lose that semi-final because you come here to win gold and qualify for the Olympic Games,” he said.
“To be able to bounce back from a heavy loss is very important for the process and so we are very happy with the win.
“It was our first game without a goal against which is big because we pride ourselves in our defence because we know, offensively, it will come. We managed it pretty well.”
As for his goal, he said with a smile: “Right place at the right time and having certain reflexes. It’s a nine-yards play, we practice it quite a lot and I was just in the right spot.”