Euro Hockey League KO16: KTHC Rot Weiss Koln 2-2 Racing Club de Bruxelles (2-3 after shootout.)

Jeremy Gucasoff, the shootout specialist came up trumps again as Belgium’s Racing Club de Bruxelles held their nerve to see off much fancied KTHC Rot Weiss Koln in a dramatic shootout. The two sides could not be separated over 70 minutes, playing out a 2-2 draw but Gucasoff, and the extra long stick he uses for the shootout saw off efforts from Mats Grambusch, Moritz Trompertz and Joshua Delarber to give his team the 3-2 win. 

A high quality game with plenty of pace, flair and skill kept the crowd entertained throughout. Scott Tupper had the first penalty corner chance for Racing but his drag flick was charged down. Rot Weiss had a lot of the ball but were finding it hard to fashion any clear cut chances. Mats Grambusch had their best opening of the quarter but he blazed it over the bar. Four minutes into the second quarter Rot Weiss forced another penalty corner. Jan-Marco Montag flicked high but straight down the middle and Gucasoff turned it over the bar. On 26 minutes, the Belgians took the lead somewhat against the run of play. Anthony Versluys was on hand to fire home after the ball was cut back to him from the baseline. With the half seemingly meandering to a close there was a sudden flurry of action in the final minutes. Benjamin Wess played the ball in from the right hand side and Marco Miltkau provided a lovely deft touch to find the far corner and make it 1-1. Parity was restored for just 30 seconds as Andrin Rickli drove forward from the restart and provided the pass for Thomas Vanneste to give them the lead going into the break.

Rot Weiss snatched an equaliser in the 42nd minute. A penalty corner broke down but Mats Grambusch had the presence of mind to pull the ball down and play it across goal where Miltkau was on hand to score his second of the match. Grambusch almost scored a lovely goal in the fourth quarter but he could not get the elevation to beat Gucasoff who blocked well, whilst at the other end Lucas de Mot had a glorious opening to give Racing the lead but he placed his shot too close to the goalkeeper who cleared. It was impossible to determine a winner so it came down to a shootout. Gucasoff went to the bench to collect an extra long stick to use in the shootout, which though not against the rules gave him a clear advantage.

De Mot went first for Racing but could not beat Victor Aly. Grambusch too, failed with Koln’s first attempt. Jerome Truyens scored at the second attempt but was levelled up by Mathias Muller. Cedric Charlier missed for Racing and then Miltkau fired comfortably home to increase the pressure. Rickli scored and then Gucasoff once again took centre stage, saving from Trompertz. With Jonathan Beckers scoring for the Belgians it was down to Delarber to save the German side but Gucasoff snaked out the stick to his right and pushed the ball wide to give Racing a famous win.

Last year’s fourth placed side crashed out at KO16 stage whilst Racing move on to wait for their opponents in the KO8.

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