For the twelfth time in history, the Dutch national team has become European champion. With the 3-1 win in the European Championship final against Belgium, the Netherlands has qualified for the Olympic Games in Paris. The Orange took off like a rocket and took a 2-0 lead within five minutes against the Belgians, who were unable to put their muscles into action last week.

The statements made by national coach Paul van Ass earlier in the week, have put the European Championship final under high tension in recent days. He counted on Germany to be the opponent in the final instead of Belgium. He said that the media is writing Belgium up. ‘Their game image against us is always the same: hold back for a long time. That’s all they do.’ Van Ass also said that after the 2-0 win over Belgium in the group stage, he was not impressed by the Red Panthers and that he was not afraid of them in the final. “If they do what they always do against us in the final, it will be 2-0 for us again.”

His honesty is unusual in women’s hockey. Van Ass takes an independent stance. He says what he thinks. But his statements were oil on the fire in the Belgian selection . International Alix Gerniers said: ‘The Dutch are arrogant people.’ Captain Barbara Nelen: ‘I am sorry that he says such things.’ Stéphanie Vanden Borre: ‘These are his words. Words that we Belgians would never use. I would never speak negatively or badly about my opponent.’

It cannot be ruled out that Van Ass tried to lure Belgium out with his statements. To tempt the Red Panthers not to build a wall in front of the goal this time, but to play more offensively, creating more space for the Dutch national team. But the national coach of Belgium, Raoul Ehren, understood that that was tantamount to suicide. Ehren – who said he was happy with a bit of commotion in the hockey world – refused to play into the hands of the Orange. Belgium is developing well, but is not yet able to dominate the Netherlands.

Freeke Moes scored the 2-0 after five minutes. Photo: William Vernes
Freeke Moes scored the 2-0 after five minutes. Photo: William Vernes

Within five minutes, the Orange already led 2-0

The expectation was that the Belgians would dig in again, hoping to keep it closed in the back for sixty minutes and eventually win with shoot-outs. In the semi-final against Germany (1-0) they already proved that they can defend very well. But the European Championship final was different from the edition of the Derby der Lage Landen in the group stage. The Netherlands was motivated to the core and took off like a rocket. Marijn Veen got it on her hips and scored after just one minute and ten seconds from a tip-in: 1-0.

Part of Ehren’s preparation for the European Championship final could immediately go into the trash. The Netherlands showed no mercy and soon suppressed Belgian ambitions even further. Attacker Freeke Moes played out opponent Emma Puvrez with a chop and passed keeper Elena Sotgiu with a roller. Within five minutes, the Orange led 2-0. This was a dream start for the Dutch national team. It was Moes’ first goal in fourteen international matches. An excellent time to end her goal drought. Before the end of the first quarter, Frédérique Matla hit the post, allowing Belgium to escape the 3-0.

The only phase in which it then became exciting was in the second quarter. The Red Panthers refused to throw in the towel, stepped up and scored three penalty corners in a row. Those were not cashed in, but moments later Abi Raye still scored the 2-1. Almost from the back line, she pushed the ball past Josine Koning, who left a small hole in the corner. When Belgium then took a corner for the fourth time, that was the perfect opportunity to score the 2-2. But Vanden Borre’s drag push was run out by Margot van Geffen.

Joosje Burg keeps possession of the ball, after which Marijn Veen tips in the 1-0. Photo: William Vernes
Joosje Burg keeps possession of the ball, after which Marijn Veen tips in the 1-0. Photo: William Vernes

Joosje Burg scores the 3-1

The Orange quickly regained control of the game. Joosje Burg dribbled through the Belgian defense and put the ball on Justine Rasir’s stick, who tapped it over the goal line herself: 3-1. The lead of the Netherlands again consisted of a safe margin of two. It was Burg’s first goal at this European Championship.

Ehren intervened in half-time with a second keeper Aisling D’Hooghe sent into the field. Orange continued to dominate. A backhand cross from Marijn Veen shot under Pien Dicke’s stick. The third quarter, in which no goals were scored, was mediocre. Belgium was unable to hurt the Netherlands. The Netherlands created little and failed to finally close the game.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Orange decorated two penalty corners, but they were not converted. Belgium had one more chance to make it 3-2, but Delphine Marien, released before King’s goal, failed to take the ball. A missed penalty corner by Matla was one of the last chances of the game, after which the final whistle sounded after sixty minutes of hockey and the Dutch party broke loose. The Orange has now won the European Championship for the fourth time in a row. An equalization of the record set in 2005.

Read the highlights of the European Championship final between the Orange Women and Belgium below.

by Hockey.nl

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