The Netherlands women and Germany men both claimed deserved FIH Hockey Pro League victories on Saturday, as the first matches of a weekend doubleheader between two of hockey’s fiercest rivals took place at the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam.
The action began in the women’s competition, with Germany taking a shock lead against the home favourites before eventually succumbing to the league leaders the Netherlands, who gave Alyson Annan her 100th win as head coach of the Oranje.
Lisa Altenburg put Die Danas ahead in the 12th minute of the contest, brilliantly controlling a pass into the circle on her reverse before squeezing her shot past Netherlands goalkeeper Anne Veenendaal. It was a lead that Germany held until the third quarter, with the Dutch scoring twice in five minutes to flip the match on its head. Frederique Matla levelled the scores by touching home a fierce cross-shot from Player of the Match Laura Nunnink, before Ireen van den Assem netted what proved to be the decisive goal with a low penalty corner drag flick.
“We needed to get used to [playing alongside] each other again, but I think we got more control during the game and I think we played really well”, said Nunnink, before commenting on Alyson Annan’s half-time assessment of the contest. “[She] said that we played well. We needed to score in the second half and be more efficient in the circle, and I think that worked out well.”
Germany goal-scorer Lisa Altenburg offered her reflections on the contest, stating: “I think we played a really good first half, we defended very well. We scored a goal against the Netherlands, which is not normal! In the first half it was really good, but in the second half we did sleep a bit, so it was a tough match in the end.”
The result sees the Netherlands open up a nine-point lead at the top of the FIH Hockey Pro League standings, with 26 points from nine matches. Argentina are in second place, having played one game less than the Dutch. Germany are seventh in the standings, but due have only played three games due to the impact of the Covid-19 global health pandemic.
Germany men produced one of their best performances in recent memory, dominating against the Netherlands to earn a Kais Al-Saadi’s team a thoroughly warranted 4-2 success.
The Oranje opened the scoring in the 7th minute thanks to a low penalty corner drag-flick from Jip Janssen before Germany turned the contest in their favour with two high quality field goals in the second quarter from Player of the Match Constantin Staib and Paul-Philipp Kaufmann. Marco Miltkau smashed home a third shortly after half time following another excellent passing move, with Staib putting the result beyond the reach of the Netherlands mid-way through the fourth quarter. Jeroen Hertzberger pulled a goal back for the Netherlands late on, but it proved only a consolation.
The result sees Germany climb up to fifth in the standings, having claimed ten points from their five matches. The Netherlands remain second in the League, but missed the opportunity to gain ground on Belgium, who are 14 points clear having played three more games than the Oranje.
“It is an amazing feeling, winning 4-2 against a great team”, said Germany double goal-scorer Staib. “We are delighted. We were quite tough defensively, we played strong in the defence and they didn’t have any good attacks. I think emotionally we were the better team today, so I think we won because of that. We are going to enjoy it and come back tomorrow even stronger.”
Reflecting on contest, Netherlands captain Billy Bakker said: “It was definitely something that we didn’t expect, the level was not very good for us, in terms of our performance. We needed to lift up the level, but it was difficult for us today. We have to watch the video, analyse it a bit and tomorrow must be 200 percent because [today] was not enough.”
FIH Hockey Pro League
Saturday 6 March 2021 – Amstelveen (NED)
Women’s result: Netherlands 2, Germany 1 (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Laura Nunnink (NED)
Umpires: Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL), Jonas van ‘t Hek (NED) and Coen van Bunge (NED – video)
Men’s result: Netherlands 2, Germany 4 (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Constantin Staib (GER)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Coen van Bunge (NED) and Jonas van ‘t Hek (NED – video)