Belfius EuroHockey Championships
Women’s semi-final: Spain 2 (M Lopez, M Segu) Germany 3 (C Pieper, H Gablac, N Lorenz)
Nike Lorenz’s last minute corner goal kept alive Germany’s chances of winning a third women’s EuroHockey Championships title as they beat Spain 3-2.
The Spaniards led early on via Maria Lopez before falling behind 2-1 to Cecile Pieper and Hannah Gablac goals. Marta Segu’s wonder strike equalised before Lorenz had the final say, setting up a sixth European final meeting between the teams.
It was a tie that Spain had the best of in the first quarter but slowly but surely Germany began to work their way back into the contest. Maria Tost raided down the right as far as Julia Sonntag who got an important block in while Maria Ruiz – in her 150th international – did the same at the far end. Gigi Oliva was in glorious form throughout, picking passes and making the vital interceptions and tackles.
Lopez broke the deadlock in the 14th minute with an awesome reverse-stick shot, following up after her run through the middle tumbled off Julia Pons’ stick and back into her path.
Germany were tetchy and were reduced to nine players at one stage for two green cards. But the likes of Lorenz and Anne Schroder started getting more onto the ball to give Spain more to think about and they were level in the 22nd minute.
Schroder’s run created it , beating a path to the left baseline and her pass squirmed between a couple of sticks to Cecile Pieper to finish off.
And the Germans moved in front from their second penalty corner early in the second half. The ball was initially moved slightly to the left but the shot was still charged down; Pieper poked it goalwards and it bounced to Hannah Gablac at the back post for the 2-1 finish.
The fourth quarter brought the response from Spain who started to apply the pressure once again, pinning Germany back in their area, hunting in packs. One corner went awry but they were level in the 52nd minute when Marta Segu scored one of the goals of the tournament.
She pounced on some slow outletting, tackling 25 metres out before drifting left and unleashing a master-blaster to the top of the net.
But Germany finished the stronger with Gablac shooting across the face of goal. And, on video review, they won a penalty corner with 54 seconds showing on the clock. Lorenz kept her cool to drag the ball into the bottom corner and win it 3-2.
German captain Janne Müller-Wieland reflected on the performance, saying: “Spain equalised in a moment when we were actually good in it. We were not deterred by that, but also knew that we would have had good chances in the penalty shootout because we were well prepared for it.
“But we’ve learned in the Pro League that we can still win every match. Now we look forward to a live game on Sunday on ARD.
“Being able to do that is something very special. It’s about the European Championship title and the Olympics – that’s important to show that too. We’re really looking forward to it!”
Umpires: L Delforge (BEL), H Harrison (ENG)
Spain – Germany
14’ Maria Lopez (FG) 1-0
22’ Cecile Pieper (FG) 1-1
33’ Hannah Galbac (PC) 1-2
52’ Marta Segu (FG) 2-2
60’ Nike Lorenz (PC) 2-3
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com