MEC: Dutch give Spain some stick |
September 2, 2005
International Herald Tribune, France
> Page Views 22583
Spain lost 2-1 in its final group game against the Netherlands Thursday, in the European field hockey championships in Leipzig, but still goes through to the semifinals. Spain had already sealed victories against France and Poland in Pool B, putting it on course to play for a place in Sunday's final. However, yesterday's narrow loss to the Dutch means the team will play its semifinal against Germany, which has been dominating Pool A.
Although Spain and the Netherlands had already secured their semifinal berths prior to their meeting on Thursday, both looked determined to top the group and the game got off to a frantic start. Despite the boiling temperature on the pitch, the Netherlands attacked from the start, with Taeke Taekema hitting the Spaniards' crossbar twice with penalty corners in the first 10 minutes. Spain responded with a surging counter-attack initiated by captain Juan Escarre, leading to a penalty corner, but the Dutch goalkeeper Guus Vogels did well to save the two ensuing two shots.
As the temperature soared, tempers started to fray, with the umpire stepping in to calm players down: Holland's Matthijs Brouwer was handed a green card for dissent in the 18th minute. However, the Dutch responded by scoring three minutes later, Brouwer himself sweeping the ball into the net after a saved shot from teammate Roderick Weusthof.
Intense Spanish pressure failed to reap reward until the 46th minute, when Alex Fabregas scored, having been set up beautifully by Eduard Tubau.
A quarter of an hour later, however, the Dutch ensured victory, with Brouwer once again the executioner, following up a penalty goal won by Robert van der Horst.
Spain seeks revenge
Both semifinals will be held on Saturday, with Spain playing Germany and Holland probably facing Belgium, which is set to finish second in Pool A. The final is on Sunday.
Although Germany appears to be a daunting opponent in the semis, Spain will look forward to exacting revenge for last summer's 4-3 bronze medal play-off defeat at the Olympic Games - where Australia won the gold medal and the Netherlands the silver. In addition, Spain lost the final of the last European Championship, held in Barcelona in 2003, to Germany.
Your opinion counts.
Rate this article or enter your comments below.