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Hockey Pro League: Double wins for Germany, Netherlands

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Amstelveen (Netherlands), March 8 (IANS) The Netherlands women and Germany men both claimed a maximum six points from their FIH Hockey Pro League fixtures at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen this weekend, with the two teams adding to Saturday’s wins with hard-earned victories on Sunday.

The Netherlands women produced a dominant display to claim their second triumph over Germany in two days, with Player of the Match Lidewij Welten scoring twice. The Oranje moved 12 points clear at the top of the FIH Hockey Pro League standings with a 3-0 score-line.

The hosts took a 1-0 lead after 65 seconds when Pien Dicke tapped home from close range after Welten had forced a save from Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag. Although Germany held their own for much of the first half, the Netherlands were simply outstanding in the second, with Welten scoring two wonderful open play strikes in the 34thand 36th minutes to put the match beyond the reach of Die Danas. The score-line could easily have been greater, with penalty corner expert Caia van Maasakker seeing a first half drag-flick rattle the post before hitting the crossbar in the second half.

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When asked if it was the perfect match from the Netherlands, Welten said: “It was definitely close to it. I think we could have scored more goals. Yesterday was good, but today was better. That is what we wanted to do today, and I think in everything that we did, we did it better than yesterday. I think we played great as a team today, so that makes it easier for the individual to play good.”

“There is a lot of things we need to get into and develop. But in terms of things that happened (today), we weren’t quick enough, and if Lidewij Welten gets a chance like that of course she is executes it. If you sleep for one second you get punished for it, so I think that is something we need to work on,” said Germany captain Janne Muller-Wieland.

While the Netherlands women completed a double victory, it was double defeat for their counterparts in the men’s team, who went down to second loss in two days against Kais Al-Saadi’s reinvigorated Germany side. Die Honamas are now up to fourth in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings, with 13 points from the six matches they have played. The Netherlands men remain in second place, some 14 points behind league leaders Belgium.

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The Netherlands were much improved in Sunday’s game but fell behind 11 minutes in when Justus Weigand deflected home from close range in a feisty contest between two giants of European hockey. Seve Van Ass restored parity with a fine solo effort after half time, but Germany’s Weigand scored his second of the game against the run of play with nine minutes remaining. The Netherlands replaced goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak — who made his 100th senior international appearance — with an outfield player for the final two minutes, attempting to swing the contest back in their favour. However, it was Germany who benefitted when Mats Grambusch fired into an empty net to give his team a maximum six points from the weekend.

“When you (look at) our last one or two years, I wasn’t 100 per cent sure that we would win twice in the Netherlands,” said Germany attacker Christopher Ruhr, who was named Player of the Match. “We have developed very well as a team in the past few weeks, and that has shown today and yesterday. I think we put in 100 percent in both games, and that is very important against a strong Netherlands side, because we know it is always tough against them.”

Dutch goal-scorer Seve van Ass said: “Obviously we are here to win games, although I think today was a bit different to yesterday. I felt we had control today in most parts of the game. The first half maybe not so much, but definitely in the second half, where we felt really in control. At 1-1 I felt we were going to push through to 2-1. They had some cards, and we missed that opportunity.”

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–IANS

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