The hosts Germany claimed a second win over Belgium in two days to make a flawless start in the FIH Pro League 2020 for women in Dusseldorf on Wednesday. Die Danas emerged with a 3-1 victory over the Red Panthers, making it a maximum six points from their first two games of the second edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League.
After conceding the lead in the 21st minute, Germany scored thrice afterward to earn a maximum of three points from the game. The third and final goal for Germany came in the 46th minute. Rebecca Grote took a penalty corner drag-flick that just landed inside the right post. This goal, the third one, put Germany within touching distance of its second successive victory in two games.
After having taken the lead, Germany not only started dominating but also went in the hunt for that third goal, with two penalty corner chances going begging. Charlotte Stapenhorst flicked a penalty corner into the pads of the Belgian keeper before a second a few minutes later didn’t go to plan and the danger was averted.
In the 40th minute, Germany’s Rebecca Grote found the target with a penalty corner that took a huge deflection from the Belgium number 1 runner.
Belgium appealed to the video umpire, believing the initial shot was high. VU Martin Madden agreed and the goal was disallowed.
From trailing 1-0, Germany turned this around and went into lead 2-1 in the 33rdminute Charlotte Stapenhorst sent a low penalty corner drag-flick with Cecile Pieper getting the deftest of touches to guide the ball into the Belgian net. Perfectly executed.
Two minutes into the third quarter, Belgium’s Lien Hillewaert left the field injured after receiving an accidental blow to the face by goalkeeper Elodie Piccard. She seemed okay.
Earlier, In the 10th minute, there was a big chance for Belgium, with Alix Gerniers collecting in the Germany circle but putting her effort just wide of the left post. Belgium started showing signs growing into the game. The action was moving rapidly from end to end as both the teams seemed determined to attack and take an early lead.
When the first quarter came to an end there was still no score. There was a chance for Belgium to take the lead when Ambre Ballenghier drove into the German circle but an excellent tackle by a defender deprived her of the ball before she could take a shot.
Soon after the game resumed for the second quarter, there was a near miss as Germany”s Hannah Gablac had a deflection just flying wide off the mark.
A minute later it was Belgium’s turn to miss a good scoring chance when Justine Rasir just shot wide off the mark.
It was the visiting team that took the lead! Charlotte Englebert won a penalty corner, with Ambre Ballenghien sending a rocket into the top left corner of the net. It was an unstoppable effort by the brilliant Belgian youngster in the 21st minute.
The lead was short-lived. In the 24th minute, the hosts leveled the score thanks to a brilliant field goal by Hannah Gablac.
For the remaining part of the second quarter, the match swung like a pendulum with both the teams attempting to take the lead again. A video referral saw Germany getting a penalty corner but it proved abortive.
Belgium captain Barbara Nelen said in her post-match comments: “In the first half, I think we played really well. We dared to play, had a lot of energy. But we had some opportunities that we didn’t score. In the second half I think the energy was a bit less, and we ‘dared’ less, which is why Germany came back hard – they showed us who we are.”
Germany goal-scorer Hannah Gablac, who was named Player of the Match, said in the post-match conference: “We have been here for nearly a week, and we are all tired in our heads. Our coach told us to keep the energy high – we did quite well in the second half, in the first ten minutes, then we lost our way a bit. But I’m very proud of my team – good work.”