Fabian Unterkircher was hailed as a world-class indoor player as Austria won their third indoor EuroHockey championship to turn away success at home
In a classic tactical battle, Austria prevailed 2-1 over Germany at Hamburg’s Sporthalle on Sunday in front of a raucous crowd of 3,200 as Unterkircher clinched the winner.
Austria and Germany have been jostling for the title since 2010, cementing their status as Europe’s top indoor nations in men’s hockey. On Saturday, Germany won the women’s title for the 16th time after a thrilling 5-4 win over the Netherlands.
Austria denied them a home double as captain Xaver Hasun said of Unterkircher: “He’s not a bad floor hockey player, is he! He has talent for the next few years and everyone will be happy to watch him and his personal reward was really well deserved.
Germany controlled the ball during the first quarter and had the only moment of real penetration when Hendrik Mertgens was blocked illegally. Captain Paul Doesch’s attack almost slipped into the pads of Mateusz Szymczyk.
The leveler came in the 18th minute when Binder produced a subtle pass to Unterkircher who whipped it towards the top corner with goalkeeper Anton Brinckman only getting a half touch on it en route to the net.
The winner came from Unterkircher, who faked a switch move before shooting himself into the net, confirming his Player of the Tournament title.
Hasun struggled to sum up how special it was: “It’s fantastic! To be honest, right now I’m pretty speechless – it’s awesome. Doing it in this hall, in Germany, in Hamburg – a real hockey town – is great for us.
“It’s always clear that you’re nervous in a game like this. Everyone tries not to make mistakes; we did it very well. In the end, we could have scored a little more but Germany too. The whole tournament and also in this match, I think we deserved it and we are very happy.
Earlier, the Netherlands clinched bronze for the second consecutive edition after a comprehensive 10-3 victory over Switzerland.
The Swiss hoped to win a medal for the first time since 2003, but they got off the hook early and never got a foothold in the game.