Euro Hockey League Final: Bloemendaal 2-0 KHC Dragons.

Two goals from Rogier Hofman gave Bloemendaal their second Euro Hockey League title and Teun De Nooijer the fairytale goodbye he had craved as Bloemendaal ran out 2-0 winners over Belgium’s KHC Dragons. 

Dragons were the first to threaten as Steven Butler broke away down the left and into the D, he tried to place his shot into the far corner but was just wide. Dragons went close again, Loick Luypaert threw an aerial into space on the left again where it was collected by Maurice Dubois, his cross just evaded the diving Florent Van Aubel.

Every time De Nooijer got on the ball there was a roar of expectation from the crowd and with time running out in the quarter he intercepted and raced towards the Dragons’ goal, only to lose his footing just outside the D.

On 20 minutes Bloemendaal took the lead. Nick Meijer did well to get away from Jeremy Celis on the right, with Celis coming back at him all the time he kept his composure to slide the ball across to Hofman who couldn’t miss.

Roel Bovendeert almost made it 2-0 with a smart turn and strike which went wide of the far post before Ronald Brouwer’s powerful run into the D brought the best out of Manu Leroy at the near post.

Dragons were still trying manfully to get themselves back into the match, driven on by the skills and determination of captain Jeffrey Thys but Tim Jenniskens and Wouter Jolie in the Bloemendaal backline hardly missed a tackle making it very difficult for Dragons to threaten Jaap Stockmann’s goal. At the other end Brouwer almost caught Leroy out, volleying an aerial into the turf from the edge of the D. For a moment the ball looked like it would loop over the goalkeeper and in, but Leroy was relieved to see it drop on top of the goal.

The third quarter was played at an extremely high pace with both sides knowing the next goal would be crucial. Brouwer forced a save from Leroy and from the resultant penalty corner Chris Ciriello was kept out by the Dragons goalkeeper. The rebound was turned goalwards, hitting the defender on the line and a penalty stroke was given. Dragons went for a video referral and were successful in getting the decision downgraded to a penalty corner which they defended well to clear the danger.

On 58 minutes Bloemendaal doubled their lead. De Nooijer broke down the right, his cross from near the touchline somehow evaded both Dubois and Luypaert in the D, allowing Hofman to collect the ball and fire a low reverse stick shot past Leroy for his eighth, and probably most important Euro Hockey League goal.

Dragons took off Leroy and went to 11 outfield players in a desperate attempt to salvage something but when they did manage to smuggle the ball in the D Stockmann saved comfortably from Dubois and Dragons knew the game was up.

The Belgian side bettered their bronze medal in last year’s competition taking the sliver this time out. They showed no little energy, effort, skill and endeavour in this game but in the end were left frustrated by a superb defensive display from the Dutch masters.

Bloemendaal have now won the Euro Hockey League twice, only Uhlenhorster HC of Germany can boast more wins, with three. There was double delight for the home crowd as De Nooijer was named as the competition’s most valuable player for the season. The second time he has won the award. MVP and Euro Hockey League Champion, a fantastic way to sign off for one of the greatest of all time.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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