Russia and Scotland men’s teams will be taking their places at one of the three Hockey Series Finals taking place next year after they took first and second place respectively at the Hockey Series Open in Lousada, Portugal.
The two highest-ranked teams were comfortable overall winners, with Russia (FIH Hero World Ranking 23) not losing a game and Scotland (WR:22) winning all except one – a 4-1 loss at the hands of the eventual champions.
Russia opened their account with a lively 5-0 win over Gibraltar, before thrashing Turkey in the largest result of the competition, a 17-1 goal-fest.
Russia’s form in front of goal meant that Marat Khairullin, who enjoyed a fine event, emerged as the top goal scorer with eight goals – all scored from open play, his lightning quick reflexes in front of goal proving a constant problem for defenders.
The match which decided the title took place on the penultimate day of competition. Russia took an early two goal lead against Scotland, which was reduced to 2-1 when Scotland's Luke Cranny found the net after half-time. As the higher-ranked team pushed to get back into the game Russia were given more freedom and two more goals, from Semen Matkovskiy and Khairullin, put the game out of Scotland’s reach.
The surprise team of the competition was Gibraltar (WR:66), who finished in fourth place, well ahead of their position as the lowest-ranked team at the competition. Despite their opening loss to Russia, Gibraltar rallied well. They lost 4-3 to Belarus (WR:35) but held Portugal (WR:36) to a 2-2 draw and beat Turkey (WR:44) in a 3-2 thriller.
Belarus took third place after some good performances, which included holding Russia to a 2-2 draw. In that match, the Belarus team had gone 2-0 down but they re-emerged after the half-item break and a fighting performance saw them claw back to 2-2 through goals from Yauheni Stsepanets and Ivan Lutsevich.
The next Hockey Series Open event will take place in Santiago, Chile from 18-23 September. It is a joint men’s and women’s event.
The results in Lousada mean that Russia and Scotland qualify for one of three FIH Series Finals which will be played in 2019, offering berths into the Olympic Qualification Events.
Each of these FIH Series Finals will consist of eight teams and will take place throughout the world.
For detailed information about the FIH Series Finals and Olympic Qualification, visit the Q&A page on the FIH website .
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