Spain had to come from behind three times to finally get the better of an ambitious young German side as the curtain came down on the FIH Hockey Pro League season in Antwerp. The Red Sticks eventually prevailed to claim a 4-3 victory and finish the season in fifth spot on 27 points while Germany ended on 22 and in sixth position.
Later in the evening, Belgium’s women wrapped up their season with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the USA. The result meant the Americans couldn’t lift themselves off the bottom of the table and have been relegated after just one win this season.
(Men’s) Spain vs Germany 4-3
Just like their match three days ago, it was once again a very young German side that took to the pitch to take on the Spanish, a total of just 28 caps between them. Within the first minute, however, Germany earned a penalty corner and Paul Glander drilled it past the keeper’s left for his first senior international goal.
Midway through the opening quarter, the players were forced to take cover from a passing thunderstorm but were soon back in action. Spain found the equaliser in the second period, Pau Cunill dragging it in off a penalty corner. With just a few seconds remaining in the half, somewhat against the run of play after absorbing plenty of pressure at the other end, Germany were back in front. Leon Lindemann’s initial shot was saved but fell straight to Florian Sperling to swat it in.
A fantastic reverse stick strike from the top of the D from José Basterra resulted in the Spanish drawing level once. But, yet again, the young Germans took the lead with just a few seconds left in the quarter, Jakob Brilla flicking high into the back of the net off a penalty corner. Having controlled much of the match, the Spanish were far from done. Joaquin Menini passed the ball in from the left as Borja Lacalle manoeuvred himself in front of the German defenders to provide the deflection. And with just under four minutes remaining, Spain took the lead for the first time in the match when Enrique Gonzalez tapped in a penalty corner rebound. That proved to be the difference between the sides, the Red Sticks holding on for the 4-3 victory.
José Basterra was named Player of the Match and said: “I’m very happy. It has been a very tough game but we had belief in us, and the result has been very good for us.”
(Women’s) Belgium vs USA 1-0
The Belgians created plenty of pressure in the first half and were rewarded for their efforts when Justine Rasir spun it around in the circle and crossed for Astrid Bonami to deflect the ball in for the opening goal.
A penalty corner soon after resulted in a deflection off the number one US runner that hit the post, so denying the home team a second. Although the Belgians dominated on attack, the US were by no means out of it – their solid defence keeping them in the match.
While the Belgians lacked some energy late on, it was a lively second half from the Americans who created several scoring opportunities. But they couldn’t find the breakthrough and had a goal disallowed for a foul in the circle, allowing the Belgians to hold on for the 1-0 win. With that they also secured fourth spot in the FIH Hockey Pro League, climbing above Germany with 30 points.
Vanessa Blockmans was named Player of the Match and said: “It was a really long Pro League, we had already four tournaments with the Argentina one, so I think the last one is always difficult but we have three points. It was the objective to finish with a win and I think we did the job.”
To see the final standings of the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Pro League – 5 July 2023
Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein – Antwerp (BEL)
Result: Men’s Match 72
Spain 4-3 Germany
Player of the Game: José Basterra (ESP)
Umpires: Martin Madden (SCO), Michiel Otten (NED), Irene Presenqui (ARG-video)
Result: Women’s Match 72
Belgium 1-0 USA
Player of the Game: Vanessa Blockmans (BEL)
Umpires: Irene Presenqui (ARG), Sarah Wilson (SCO), Michiel Otten (NED-video)