Netherlands men continue to dazzle

Netherlands got off to a blistering start against Spain in their penultimate match of the FIH Pro League season.

In a manner you would expect of the champions, the men in orange hit the ground at top speed and Thierry Brinkman was perfectly positioned to open the scoring from close range in the fourth minute. The lead was doubled a few minutes later when a beautiful cross field aerial was received by Floris Wortelboer on the edge of the Spanish circle. He played the ball to Jelle Galema who slotted it past Mario Garin in the Spanish goal.

Spain fought back and it was a clever and audacious goal that opened their account. Alvaro Inglesias dribbled the ball along the Netherlands’ baseline before shaping up to pass it back. As the defence and goalkeeper all fell for the feint, he was able to squeeze the ball home.

Immediately after the break, Spain were able to benefit from a player advantage. Laars Balk received a green card and Spain instantly went on the attack. Although Maurits Visser in the Netherlands’ goal was able to stop the first wave of Spanish attack, he could do nothing about the crisply taken shot from the top of the circle by Ignacio Rodriguez.

The final moments of the second quarter saw Netherlands quickly regain the lead. A series of quick passes saw Terrance Pieters in a great position in the circle from where he was able to lift the ball home.

The third quarter saw Netherlands playing some beautifully controlled hockey. The team in orange would run the ball into the Spanish circle on one side, realise there was no way through and so re-cycle and start again. That patience yielded two penalty corners but Spain dealt with the chances well.

There were no goal in the third quarter but both sides had their moments and, with 15 minutes to go, this looked like a match with more goals in it.

Netherlands extended their lead to 4-2 in the 53rd minute when Jonas de Geus was able to deflect the ball into the goal with a well-worked penalty corner routine. The initial ball in was played by Jip Jansen.

Spain, as is their way, battled to the end but the Netherlands are in superb form right now and were not likely to let the lead slip with just a few minutes of play left.

Player of the Match, Jelle Galema (NED) said: ‘That was really good. It is difficult to come back after a celebration (after winning the Pro League last week) but we worked really hard and you saw 18 guys running like hell. For me that was a special goal because I have had two operations and it has been difficult and sometimes painful. Today I was back with my family and friends supporting me from thr stands.’