Euro Hockey League KO8: Amsterdam 3-2 Berliner.

Two goals from Mirco Pruyser meant Amsterdam became the second Dutch side to make it to May’s Final Four with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Berliner.

Berliner could have taken the lead in the first minute as Jonas Gomoll played Anton Ebeling in but his reverse stick shot was kept out by Derek van Essen.

Santi Freixa linked up well with Klaas Vermulen down the right, the latter lifted the ball over the goalkeeper but it was cleared off the line. Robert Tigges had a penalty corner effort charged down and Freixa’s follow up was superbly turned over by Christopher Stubbe.

Berliner had a great chance to take the lead with the last play of the quarter as Tigges gave the ball away to Gomoll who had two bites of the cherry but could not beat Van Essen.

Chances were scarce in both 1st and 2nd quarters, Billy Bakker was frustrated by Stubbe and Van Essen was alert to stop Max Badelt from opening the scoring as the teams were locked at 0-0 going into the break.

Berliner drew first blood at the start of the second half. Robert Marx showed good strength and composure to ride a tackle and pick his spot in the bottom corner with a low reverse stick shot to make it 1-0.

Amsterdam’s response was a break from Billy Bakker, but the Amsterdam captain could not beat Stubbe who was up quickly to repel Freixa’s follow up effort too.

Then came a moment of drama and controversy: Amsterdam successfully referred asking for a penalty corner, much to the dismay of the German side. Tigges played the ball outside the far post where Pruyser applied the finishing touch to make the game all square. With Berliner still reeling from that decision, Amsterdam took the lead. Freixa cut inside away from two defenders and hit a splendid shot inside the near post with the goalkeeper wrong footed. Berliner responded and from a mis-trapped penalty corner the ball found its way to Kevin Lim. His shot was low and had plenty of pace but Van Essen will feel he could have done better as he allowed the ball to go in off his pads.

Billy Bakker’s influence on the game was growing with every minute and the Amsterdam captain drove across the pitch, waited and played a perfect through ball to Pruyser who had slipped away from his marker. With Stubbe rushing out to narrow the angle the Amsterdam No.14 hit a reverse stick shot past the goalkeeper to make it 3-2. It was a splendid goal.

Berliner tired manfully to find another equaliser, Van Essen made a good block from Till Scharp off a penalty corner and you could sense the tension amongst the home supporters as they watched their side try to cling on. Stubbe was removed for the final few minutes so the Germans could play with an extra outfield player but it did not come off. They actually had to face a penalty corner with no goalkeeper but Tigges’ flick was diverted over by Richard Braun.

Amsterdam ran the clock out and secured their place in the Final Four. It was a game which took a while to get going, but was not short of drama in the second half. Amsterdam will now play old rivals Bloemendaal in what promises to be an exciting semi-final.

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