Germany break English hearts in shoot out drama

Harry Martin in action against gemany at euros 480 x 290

Germany 2 (1)
Martin Zwicker, 30 (FG)
Lukas Windfeder, 57 (PC)

England 2 (1)
Mark Gleghorne, 20 (FG)
Ashley Jackson, 59 (PS)

Germany win 3 - 2 after shoot out

Germany sealed their place in the final of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships with a tense shootout win over England. Markus Weise’s side had edged in front after goals from Martin Zwicker and Lukas Windfeder had cancelled out Mark Gleghorne’s opener but Ashley Jackson’s late penalty stroke took the game into a shootout. Nicolas Jacobi was the hero for his side, saving twice in the shootout to break English hearts and condemn Bobby Crutchley’s team to the bronze medal match.

It was a lively opening quarter but clear chances were hard to come by. Jacobi and George Pinner were both forced into early clearances. The lion’s share of the action took place in the middle of the field with a battle for control swinging from one side to the other. The first clear chance came with five minutes to go till the break. A lovely passing move from England involving Barry Middleton and David Ames set David Condon free and he bravely dived in to get the shot off which Jacobi smothered with a fine save. England were a whisker away moments later. A loose ball broke to Chris Griffiths near the top of the circle but his first time shot flashed wide. Pinner was called into action to make a crucial block from Marco Miltkau and it remained 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter England came out strongly. A quick free hit allowed Ames to find Sam Ward in the circle. Although Ward got his shot away he was adjudged to be fouled by Martin Haener and a penalty stroke was awarded. Germany asked for a video referral and the decision was overturned. Undeterred, England attacked again. Adam Dixon broke into the circle and crossed for Gleghorne who guided the ball in to give his side the lead. Mats Grambusch’s snapshot on the turn went wide without troubling Pinner and then Christopher Ruhr went even closer with an incredible run and shot, but again it was off the target. Germany’s pressure told and they equalised right on the stroke of half time. Niklas Wellen crossed and Martin Zwicker was on hand to steer the ball in at the near post to restore parity at the break.

In the third quarter England won a penalty corner after a foul on Dan Fox. Jackson fired it in low but somehow Jacobi got a stick to it to turn it around the post. Ward collected an aerial pass from Lewers and broke into the circle but his cross just evaded a diving Middleton and it remained 1-1 at the end of the third quarter.

Germany pressed England back at the start of the fourth quarter but the defence held firm with Michael Hoare and Lewers producing some superb defensive work. Ward and then Middleton forced good saves in quick succession from Jacobi but as the clock ticked down the tension was mounting. Germany won a penalty corner with three minutes to go. Lucas Windfeder beat Pinner to his left with a fierce drag flick to edge Germany in front. England went straight to the other end and won a corner but Jackson’s shot was charged down by the runner. England took off goalkeeper Pinner as a last throw of the dice and it paid off as they won another penalty corner after Jackson was held in the circle. Gleghorne’s flick came back off Jacobi and in the ensuing melee Middleton was fouled to earn a penalty stroke. Germany referred the decision and after a long delay the award was upheld. Jackson stepped up and was the calmest man in the stadium, sending Jacobi the wrong way to score and put the game to a shootout.

Florian Fuchs went first in the shootout and scored. Jackson stepped up first for England and spun twice before calmly slotting it home. Tobias Hauke was next but Pinner did brilliantly to make a double save and clear but then Jacobi followed suit from Middleton’s effort. Moritz Furste made it 2-1 with a cool finish and then Nick Catlin hit the post. Mathias Muller had the chance to make it 3-1 but Pinner saved again. Harry Martin was next to go, and he levelled it up at 2-2 before Mats Grambusch scored to put the pressure on Ward. Jacobi made a superb double save from the Holcombe striker and England were beaten.

England’s next match of the competition is against Ireland in the bronze medal match which takes place on 29 August at 14:00. Coverage is on the BBC Red button and BBC Sport website.

Quotes – Nick Catlin, England

“It doesn’t get much closer than that. It’s probably the best semi-final I’ve been involved in since I came into the team. We certainly turned up and played our part but we went from the ecstasy of making 2-2 to the agony of losing on shootout. We’re there or thereabouts. That’s the closest we’ve ever pushed them in a major tournament.

The more we play these games the closer we’re getting. If we keep playing the way we did today we won’t lose these games every time. The shootout is a bit of a lottery - Germany seem to win a few more than they lose but we are very close.

All Sam Ward needs to do is look at Barry [Middleton] and me. It doesn’t matter who you are it’s a pressure situation and it can happen to anyone. Tobias Hauke’s one of the best players in the world and he’s missed. Sam Ward will be ok. He’ll come back from it. It’s important not to wallow. We’ll have debrief and look at where we can improve ahead of Ireland on Saturday. I have no doubt we’ll bounce back and produce a good performance.”

England’s women are in semi-final action tomorrow at 19:30 against Spain with the men’s and women’s finals also taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are still available and can be bought at www.eurohockey2015.co.uk/tickets .

The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 showcases the best eight men’s and women’s teams in Europe, including both England teams. The event will offer entertainment both on and off the pitch with a large fan park, including a fun zone for children. The stadium capacity has been expanded to cater for demand for tickets, with some sessions on the verge of selling out again at the increased capacity. The tournament is one of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded events as part of the #EveryRoadtoRio series. You can find out more at www.uksport.gov.uk/events.