Argentina women crowned champions as Belgium win narrowly against India. Netherlands still top the men’s league as India win bonus point in Belgium

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It was a busy day of FIH Pro League action, but one the Argentina women’s team will remember as the day they won their first FIH Hockey Pro League table. The way results fell means that Argentina have won this season’s Pro League no matter what their result against India next week. India had to win all four of their final matches and Belgium put paid to that by beating the Eves today by a tight 2-1 margin.

Netherlands women maintained their winning ways when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat a German side that was exciting on the counter attack but just couldn’t keep the rampaging Dutch team out.

Spain and USA women could not be separated in match time but Spain’s recent experiences in shoot-outs gave the European side the edge and they came away with the bonus point.

The four men’s team’s competing today occupy the top four places in the FIH Pro League, so every result was vital for final placings. The men’s match between Belgium and India was a classic between two teams at the top of their game. It finished 3-3 after India manufactured a fantastic comeback in the final 10 minutes after they went 3-1 down. India then held on to take the bonus point.

The Germany v Netherlands men’s game mirrored the pattern of the earlier women’s match. The home side took the lead, only to see Netherlands find their way into the match and eventually overhaul them to strengthen their hold on the league leaderboard.

Spain vs USA (women) – Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein-Antwerp (BEL)

USA national women’s team were back in FIH Pro League action after a few week’s break and thanks to their resolute defence they were able to hold Spain to a 1-1 draw, although Spain took the shoot-out bonus point 4-2).

Both USA goalkeepers, Kealsie Robles and Jenny Rizzo were outstanding at times, as they marshalled their defences and pulled off some cracking saves.

Spain Head Coach Adrian Lock will be concerned that his team only scored once, despite a huge amount of possession and a total of 38 circle entries, compared to the USA’s eight entries.

Against the run of play, the USA took the lead through a penalty corner from Alia Marshall. The goal, which was scored in the 27th minute, was the result of Ashley Hoffman’s shot, which Marshall pounced on to slot home.

Spain responded almost immediately when a series of attacking moves led to a foul in the circle. Georgia Oliva stepped up to take the penalty stroke and made no mistake from the spot.

USA thought they had taken the lead just before the third quarter break. Lovely stick skills from Erin Matson created the chance and Megan Rogers shot home but just after the whistle had gone.

The final minutes of the match saw Spain pushing and pushing for the winning goal but despite a number of chances, the USA defence were not going to let their chance of a Pro league point slip away.

In the shoot-out, the Spanish strikers held their nerve and took the bonus point. The pick of the shoot-out attempts were Xantal Gine’s lift and follow-up shot and Florencia Amundsen’s final shot that sealed the bonus point.

Player of the Match Florencia Amundson said: ‘I think we could have won, we had a lot of chances. But we won the shoot-out so that was good. [Talking about the Player of the Match award,] It is not about one person, it was a team effort, although of course I am pleased to get the award.’

Greg Drake, Head Coach of the USA said: ’On the balance of the game, I was happy with our second half. We saw more of the game and created a bit more. A little bit of luck, and we could have been in front from the third quarter. We are progressing and I hope for a positive performance tomorrow.’

Spain are now in fourth place in the league with one match remaining. USA remain in ninth position.

Germany vs Netherlands (women) – Stadion Am Pfeilshof, Hamburg (GER) 

The first quarter saw Netherlands put a huge amount of pressure on the German defence, including a barrage of six penalty corners. Despite some challenging shots from the top of the circle from Frederique Matla and Yibbi Jansen, it was Germany who took the lead. A clever move by Jette Fleschutz took the young player past the Dutch defence and her shot was touched in by Sara Strauss.

Germany extended their lead in the 22nd when the Netherlands goal keeper Anne Veenendaal touched the ball with the back of her stick and gave away a penalty stroke. Sonja Zimmermann put the penalty stroke away with precision.

While Germany had the 2-0 lead, it was Netherlands who were enjoying the greater pressure and more clear cut chances. However, it wasn’t until the 32nd minute that the pressure was rewarded. The ever-excellent Xan de Waard intercepted the ball and she sent a rapidly taken pass to Felice Albers, who made no mistake as she fired the ball past Julia Sonntag in the German goal.

The second Dutch goal was made and scored by Lidewij Welten. The multi-capped striker received the ball on the edge of the circle, drew the keeper and then slipped the ball past her to make it 2-2.

After numerous penalty corners, Netherlands finally made one count. Frederique Matla’s shot was saved but she collected the rebound, fired it goalwards and watched it fly past Sonntag to give her side the lead.

Germany removed their ‘keeper and went for the equaliser in the final minutes but Netherlands are far too canny to let a slender lead slip and germany’s final surge came to nothing.

Player of the Match Maria Verschoor said: ‘I am really happy that we turned it around, the first half wasn’t good enough and we didn’t play with our usual energy. I am glad that we turned that around.’

Netherlands are second in the FIH Pro League at present, behind champions Argentina and seven points ahead of India. Germany are in sixth place.

Belgium vs India (women)- Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein-Antwerp (BEL)

Belgium took an early lead in the third minute when Barbara Nelen picked up a ball passed into the circle by Louise Versavel and hit it first time past Savita in the India goal.

That lead was extended in the 35th minute though a piece of great finishing by Ambre Ballenghien. The ball was fired into the circle and Ballenghien was in a great position to touch it goalwards.

India knew they had to win or draw this game in order to prevent Argentina winning the FIH Pro League and, when Lalremsiami scored in the 48th minute, everything seemed possible. The striker used great one-on-one skills to take the ball past Aisling D’Hooghe to reduce the deficit. India really put their foot on the accelerator and created a heap of opportunities, including a chance in which Rani, who celebrated her 250th international cap today, came close to evening things up. Through the onslaught, the Belgium defence stood firm.

Player of the Match Charlotte Engelbert (BEL) ‘Our win was deserved. We have to fix some details, particularly at the end of the game. That is something we have to work on because it was the same against Spain. Now we are sixth in the world, so that is great.’

The result leaves Belgium in sixth place in the FIH Pro League, with India in third place.

Germany vs Netherlands (men) – Stadion Am Pfeilshof, Hamburg (GER) 

An unorthodox goal from captain Mats Grambusch gave Germany the lead in this match between the Pro League leaders Netherlands and the fourth-placed German team. A penalty corner was sent short to Mats Grambusch who was wide of the goal, near the injector. One step and a shot saw the ball fly past Maurits Visser who was caught unawares by the unusual move.

If the first quarter was Germany’s, the second quarter was all about a well taken penalty corner from Tim Swaen and then a moment of genius from Joep de Mol. Swaen’s goal was all power and placement and then de Mol picked up the ball in midfield and then just seemed to glide through the German defence before unleashing a shot that flew into the left corner of Alex Stadler’s goal. The halfway score of 2-1 reflected the way Netherlands had come strongly back into the game.

The third quarter saw the teams continuing to probe for gaps in the opposition’s defence but in the final minutes of the quarter, Germany began to really pile on the pressure. A series of penalty corners gave the Dutch plenty to think about but, in the dying seconds of the quarter Thies Prinz won the penalty corner with some weaving running through the Dutch defence. Gonzalo Peillat’s penalty corner strike was cleverly deflected by Prinz, neatly closing the circle on the player who started and ended the goal.

Netherlands re-established their lead in the 49th minute when Koen Bijen was able to niop behind the German defence and latch onto a cross into the circle.

That was the last scoring action in the game. Despite a stream of German penalty corners in the final minutes Netherlands held firm and there was no way through. Germany removed Stadler from the goal with two minutes left, but still there was no way through the orange shirts. Player of the Match was Joep de Mol

Germany’s captain Mats Grambusch said: ‘I think we had a very good start and had some attacks that were dangerous. Then we lost control, we had too many turnovers, in fact, we got them back into the game. Our best quarter was the third quarter. Tomorrow we have to not concede goals and we have to score more.’

The result means Netherlands strengthen their hold at the top of the FIH Pro League. Germany remain in fourth.

Belgium vs India (men)- Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein-Antwerp (BEL)

At the start of the match India was in second place and Belgium in third position in the FIH Pro League, so this was always going to be closely contested.

The match opened with a scintillating first 30 minutes of action. India could have taken the lead early on when Akashdeep volleyed the ball into the side netting but it was his team mate Shamsher Singh who scored the opening with a brilliantly excuted goal in the 18th minute.

Led by goakeeper Loic van Doren, Belgium weathered a storm of India attacking moves and then started to create their own chances. The efforts were rewarded in the 21st minute when a quick break by Belgium got behind the India defence. Cedric Charlier scored a cracking goal after a pass from Tom Boon found the midfielder lurking in front of the goal and able to steer it past PR Sreejesh in the India goal.

Just before the halftime break Arthur van Doren left the field with an injury and played no further part in the game.

The second half really burst into goal-scoring life. Simon Gougnard put Belgium into a 2-1 lead with a neatly taken tip-in, then Nicholas de Kerpel was on hand to send home a drag flick from a penalty corner. At 51 minutes and with a 3-1 lead, belgium might have expected to take all three points but India are a team who play to the final whistle.

A penalty stroke gave Harmanpreet a chance to extend his goal scoring figures in the FIH Pro League and he made no mistake. Then, with just two minutes left on the clock, Jarmanpreet got hold of a penalty corner drag flick and sent a rocket of a shot past Loic van Doren in the Belgium goal.

In the shoot-out, India were clinical as they scored all five attempts to Belgium’s four.

Player of the Match PR Sreejesh (IND), said: ‘That was a great come back from my teammates. They never gave up. Tomorrow it is all about the energy, they are a great side and they will utilise any opportunities so we have to stay energetic all the time.’

The results mean that India are in second place in the league, one point ahead of Belgium and two points nehind Netherlands.

FIH Hockey Pro League action continues on Sunday 12 June with yet another busy and fascinating day of fixtures. It is a rematch between Spain women and USA at 11:00 CEST, with Belgium women then playing India at 14:00 CEST – both these matches will take place at the Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein-Antwerp. The third women’s match is between Germany and Netherlands and will start at the earlier time of 11:30 CEST. The match takes place at Stadion Am Pfeilshof, Hamburg.

At 14:40 CEST Germany men face the Netherlands for a second time, while at 16:30 CEST Belgium and India men will be once more in action at the Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein-Antwerp.

To see the current men’s FIH Pro League Standings, click here.

To see the current women’s FIH Pro League Standings, click here.

FIH Pro League – 11 June 2022

Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein-Antwerp (BEL)

Result: Men’s Match 62
Belgium 3, India 3 (India win shoot-out 5-4)
Player of the Match: PR Sreejesh (IND)
Umpires: David Tomlinson (NZL), Coen van Bunge (NED) Hannah Harrison (ENG)

Result: Men’s Match 63
Germany 2, Netherlands 3
Player of the Match: Joep de Mol (NED)
Umpires: Bruce Bale (ENG), Jakob Mejzlik (CZE), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL – Video)

Result: Women’s Match 55
Spain 1, USA 1 (Spain win shoot-out 4-2)
Player of the Match: Florencia Amundson (ESP)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Michelle Meister (GER) David Tomlinson (NZL -video)

Result: Women’s Match 56
Germany 2, Netherlands 3
Player of the Match: Maria Verschoor (NED)
Umpires: Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL), Ivona Makar (CRO),  (Bruce Bale ENG -video)

Result: Women’s Match 57
Belgium 2, India 1
Player of the Match: Charlotte Engelbert (BEL)
Umpires: Hannah Harrison (ENG) Liu Xiaoying (CHN) Michelle Meister (GER- video)

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