The Netherlands made it four successive women’s EuroHockey Championship titles as two goals in the first five minutes saw them deny Belgium a first title.
Marijn Veen and Freeke Moes snatched the vital goals that meant they were always in the ascendancy on the scoreboard and while Belgium ensured they never raced away, it meant another perfect week in orange.
They collect the ticket to next summer’s Olympic Games into the bargain, meaning they avoid the qualifiers.
It was a breathtaking start with Veen poking in the first goal with only 70 seconds on the clock after strong battling from Felice Albers and Joosje Burg.
Then Moes wriggled out of a challenge from a pin-point cross from the right from Pien Dicke before finishing off.
Abi Raye did get one back from the left baseline after Delpine Marien’s initial preparation work.
The two-goal gap was restored in the 26th minute, however, when Xan de Waard set Burg free on the right and her intended cross took a heavy touch off a defensive stick for 3-1.
“We had some more chances in the first half to get a few more goals but after the rest, Belgium came more at us and put more pressure on and made it harder!” player of the match Moes said after the win.
“We really felt that in our team. We were not really in control and it took a while to get that control back. But overall we are so happy. Our family and friends are all here; we have a party here and then I don’t know where the night will bring us!”
For Belgium, they did pick up a number of prizes in addition to their silver medals - just their second in the women’s competition - with Charlotte Englebert voted the best player and Emily White the young talent by the press and the media.
Yibbi Jansen was the tournament top-scorer with seven goals while Italy’s Lucia Caruso was the best goalkeeper.
Germany stormed past the challenge of England to claim bronze in front of a packed house in the SparkassenPark, running up a 3-0 victory.
The English side kept out a glut of early penalty corners before Ellie Rayer had two brilliant efforts denied by the German defence, Julia Sonntag diving full-length to tip one away.
This all happened before the 12th minute when Sonja Zimmerman whipped home a corner for 1-0. Tessa Howard again went close from mid-circle but Germany were in control for long periods and they got their extra gap when Charlotte Stapenhorst made it 2-0 in spectacular style.
A back-to-front move down the left-wing set her free and her pace took her away around her marker before wrong-footing the goalkeeper with a mid-circle shot.
And the game was well and truly wrapped up with two minutes to go when Jette Fleschütz scored into an open goal to ease any lingering tension.
Selin Oruz said of the win: “I am really proud of this bunch of girls. We were really sad after the semi-final and now, look at this atmosphere, winning this last game and the bronze medal, it means a lot to us. I can only say I am really proud and I love this team.”
As for the tournament at home, she added: “It has been a dream for everyone, I grew up close to Mönchengladbach and its amazing, it’s goosebumps… it’s everything.”
Ireland’s women and Spain’s men preserved their respective status in the top division of the EuroHockey Championships following feisty battles in Pool C.
It meant their opponents, Italy and Wales respectively, will go into next summer’s qualifiers but can take a huge amount of pride for their closing performances.
Ireland and Italy drew 1-1 to give the former a fifth place finish while Italy were eighth but produced their strongest performance in the competition since 2007 in terms of results.
The Italians went in front from a corner move in the 35th minute with Sofia Laurito tipping home from a powerful slap from the top of the circle.
Naomi Carroll equalised in the 48th minute when she dived onto a powerful ball across from Caitlin Sherin. The result left Ireland on five points in Pool C and in fifth place overall, one point ahead of Spain.
Scotland were seventh and Italy - despite picking up two draws - finished in eighth place. Those two sides will contest next summer’s EuroHockey qualifier tournaments while the top six are confirmed in the top division for 2025.
On the men’s side, Spain eventually prevailed 4-3 against the Welsh courtesy of a late Pau Cunill drag-flick. Wales took the lead in the second half via a Gareth Furlong rocket but three replies in the third quarter from Jose Basterra, Cunill and Joaquin Menini put Spain 3-1 up.
But a Dale Hutchinson cracker and another Furlong drag made it 3-3 in the 58th minute. There was one last sting in the tail when Cunill scored another corner for the winning moment.
It means Spain move to six points, level with France on points but ahead on goal difference. It means they are safe no matter what happens between the French and Austria.
The Austrians, meanwhile, need a four-goal victory to overtake France when they meet on the final morning of action in Mönchengladbach.