Bhubaneswar, 13 December 2014: The Netherlands eventually saw off Belgium in a penalty shoot-out to earn a fifth place playoff from the opening game of day five at the Hero Hockey Champions Trophy here today.
Playing the first two quarters of the game, The Netherlands comfortably took the lead by 2-0 in the game over Belgium and looked well set to conquer the match but Belgium bounced back in the fame and managed to level the score at 2-2 and took the game into the penalty shootouts.
Jeroen Hertzberger got the Dutch up and running in the 11th minute with a powerful finish from the top of the circle. Sander Baart then made it 2-0 just before half-time when Rob van der Horst located the forward behind the last Belgian defender. Baart applied a delicious final touch.
From there, Belgium had the better chances but Pirmin Blaak was in superb form, denying Sebastien Dockier and Tom Boon among others in the third quarter. Boon got one back with 11 minutes to go with a brave, diving finish. Constantijn Jonker twice went close to restoring the two-goal margin, his deflections denied by the post and the crossbar, while Blaak made an excellent save from a Tanguy Cosyns drag-flick to retain the lead going into the final stages.
There was last minute drama a plenty, however, when Mink van der Weerden saw his penalty corner charged down – after Belgium had removed their goalkeeper – and Amaury Keusters draw another superb block from Blaak. But Belgium won a corner with one second remaining and John-John Dohmen touched home the equaliser.
Jaap Stockmann, brought into the fray for the shoot-out, made crucial saves on Cosyns and Florent van Aubel to give the Dutch a 4-2 shoot-out win.
Speaking on their win, Dutch Goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann said, “It was a good competitive match today and we did a good in terms of our desperation to win the game. It’s a sport where you have to have your mind set at the target and it was in place during the match. All teams are performing well in the tournament and clearly none of them are easy to beat. We had studied for the penalty shootouts, if there was a situation, which turned out to be fruitful for us today. Sreejesh has been performing really well and is growing as a player. It is good to see his progress and improvement in the past couple of years.”
Speaking post losing the match, Belgium Captain John-John Dohmen said, “We started very late and didn’t play our real game and because of injuries we lost control over the game. Luck was not in our favour today and the opponent played very good. We will try our best to win the next game to maintain the position in the Champions Trophy. We should try and leave behind the last matches and think about the match coming up.”
Post their win, Dutch Goalkeeper and ‘Man of the Match’ Pirmin Blaak said, “We are very excited and played better than we did in the quarter final. Belgium fought back really well in the last two quarters of the game but bad luck. We needed to win this match after losing against Pakistan. Our strategy was to push Belgium back which we managed to do successfully and now we need to win the next game to be in No 5 position in the Champions Trophy.”