Dutch men take EuroHockey title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/hockeygeneric.jpg' class='caption'> Two great matches graced the final day of the Eurohockey Nations Championship men's tournament on Sunday.

Updated: August 28, 2007 11:23 IST
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Two great matches graced the final day of the Eurohockey Nations Championship men's tournament on Sunday.

The climax to the tournament pitted the mighty Dutch against Spain - the former taking a fifth-minute lead through Matthijs Brouwer.

On the stroke of half-time, the Netherlands were awarded their first penalty corner of the match.

They have in their possession the best converter in the business - Taeke Taekema made no mistake, connecting with his 15th set piece of the tournament.

That made him the highest goalscorer in a single European Championships. Juan Lainz gave the Spaniards hope, pulling a goal back in the 52nd minute.

But that man Taekema restored the two-goal advantage for the Dutch, five minutes later. The Spanish weren't done and a slick one-two resulted in Eduard Tubau converting Spain's fourth penalty corner of the match with six minutes remaining.

Maurits Hendriks' men searched hard for an equaliser - Tubau though, spurned a great chance to level the game in the 69th minute.

3-2 was how it finished, the Dutch becoming champions of Europe for the first time in 20 years.
Earlier, the 3rd/4th-placed match had served up a classic.

Germany were huge favourites to defeat Belgium and clinch the last remaining automatic qualifying place for the 2008 Olympics.

Philip Witte got them underway, opening the scoring in the 33rd minute. And when Matthias Witthaus rounded Belgian goalkeeper Cedric Degreve five minutes after the restart and scored with a reverse stick shot from a very tight angle, Markus Weise's men looked well on course for victory.

Witthaus was possibly ill-advised in taunting the Belgians and two minutes later, Alexandre De Saedeleer drove a penalty corner low and hard past Ulrich Bubolz.

In their midweek pool clash, Belgium had come from two-down to earn a 2-2 draw and the packed Belle Vue crowd was stunned when, just a minute later, Charles Vandeweghe levelled the scores.

But in the 62nd minute, the unthinkable happened - and the six-time champions found themselves behind after a Jerome Dekeyser strike.

Three minutes later and Germany were back in the game. A goal-bound effort struck Patrice Houssein's foot - Niklas Meinert dispatched the penalty stroke.

But with four seconds remaining, Adam Commens' men clinched a famous victory. A free hit was forcefully struck into the German circle - Truyens connected and mayhem ensued.

Sheer joy for a Belgian side who can't have expected too much before Sunday's clash. The German team will now have to attend one of next year's Olympic qualifying tournaments after failing to pick up a medal at the tournament for the first time ever.

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