It was perhaps the final that hockey spectators would have expected to see at the EuroHockey Men’s Hockey5s. The event was a qualifier for the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup taking place in Oman in 2024 and the two finalists, Netherlands and Belgium, will be joined in Oman by the third placed team, Poland.
Netherlands were the overall winners, beating Belgium 4-1 in an exciting, tensely contest final.
Netherlands and Belgium had both looked top class as they progressed through the earlier matches, although bronze medalists Poland had proved the sternest competition for both teams, with scores of 5-3 and 7-5 respectively.
There were some big score lines through the course of the tournament, although the scores became much closer as the teams reached the business end of the event.
In the final, Netherlands rushed to a 3-0 lead in the opening half. The goals came from captain Imre Vos, Alexander Schop and Jamie van Aart. Yannick van der Drift added to the Dutch tally in the second half and Belgium finally found the net through Emelie Esquelin.
The third place match saw a closely contested first half between Poland and Switzerland which ended 1-1, but then Poland showed their experience to pull away with a flurry of seven goals. Switzerland could only add one in reply.
Fifth place went to Austria who defeated Ukraine in a thrilling 6-4 match. It was 4-2 at half time and both teams scored a further two goals in an energetic second half of action.
Turkey beat Croatia in the 7/8th place match, while Cyprus beat Finland to take ninth spot. Luxembourg overcame a fierce challenge from Sweden to win 6-5 and Armenia finished in 13th place.
The top scorer was Fabian Unterkircher of Austria who rattled in 26 goals.
The results mean Netherlands, Belgium and Poland will be competing in Oman in 2024 alongside 13 other teams from the five continental federations.