Euro Hockey League KO8: Waterloo Ducks HC 2-4 Racing Club de Bruxelles.

Racing Club de Bruxelles came out on top in this all-Belgian affair as they overcame rivals Waterloo Ducks 4-2 in a high quality encounter between two excellent sides. Goals from Aldo Dalla Palma, Anthony Versluys, Scott Tupper and Cedric Charlier gave them the edge to come from behind and grab a famous win to make it to the final four for the first time in their history. 

With the two sides knowing each other inside out from their domestic battles it could easily have been a cagey affair. However both sides played at an incredible pace standing toe to toe like a couple of prize fighters trading blows.

Racing took the lead in the first quarter. Jonathan Beckers drove towards the top of the D and sent the ball in towards goal. It found its way to Dalla Palma who showed good composure, waiting for Vincent Vanasch to commit before lifting a calm finish beyond the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

Thomas Vanneste wasted a good chance for Racing to make it 2-0, rushing his shot when he had much more time than he realised. At the other end Gauthier Boccard had WatDucks best opening of the quarter but he could only hit his reverse wide of the target.

Just before half time the game was turned on its head. Shane McLeod’s side were awarded two penalty strokes in as many minutes. Alexandre De Saedeleer stepped up and took both, opting to shoot in the same corner and beating the goalkeeper both times to make it 2-1.

Four minutes after the re-start it was all square again. Vanneste crossed from the right and Versluys killed the ball brilliantly before beating Vanasch from close in. Waterloo then became architects of their own downfall as first John-John Dohmen and then Benjamin Van Hove broke the line at a penalty corner, leaving two defenders and the goalkeeper to defend instead of four. Wisely, Racing opted to move the ball with Tupper playing a 1-2 before slotting home to give his team the lead. Jeremy Gucasoff, the hero of the last round then pulled off two excellent penalty corner saves from De Saedeleer and Racing got to the fourth quarter with their noses in front.

Wat Ducks had plenty of the ball in the final quarter as Racing sat deeper and deeper trying to protect their advantage. Gucasoff did well to keep out Dohmen and then Maxime Luycx in a frantic goalmouth scramble. Tupper was colossal in defence, making a series of tackles and ensuring Racing held firm. With just minute left on the clock, the Canadian star fired a perfect pass in from a penalty corner for Cedric Charlier to deflect in and give Christian Cavallet’s team the win.

Waterloo may have come out on top in the Belgian championships this season, but today definitely belonged to Racing.

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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