England Men’s hopes of reaching the Odisha World Cup final in Bhubaneswar, India were ended by a clinical Belgian performance which saw England crash 6-0 in the first semi-final.
Belgium, ranked third in the world to England’s seventh place ranking took the lead in the eighth minute, Victor Wegnez attacking down the left and Florent van Aubel crossing for Tom Boon to deflect the ball past England goalkeeper George Pinner.
Boon came close to doubling the Red Lions’ lead at the end of the first quarter, another deflection rebounding off the English crossbar.
Belgium’s penalty corner routnes were also perfect as they converted all three awards. The first in the 19th minute saw Alexander Hendrickx’s shot saved by Pinner only for the rebound to be swept home by Simon Gougnard from the left of the circle.
Three minutes before half time Sébastien Dockier incredibly missed the chance to add a third goal in front of an open goal with Pinner struggling to cover, his shot ending up past the left post after attacking play from Gauthier Boccard and van Aubel.
England had a chance to pull a goal back from their first penalty corner, awarded after Surbiton’s James Gall was fouled in the circle, but although Adam Dixon got a shot on target, Belgium were awarded a free hit.
In the 42nd minute, the England defence was caught out by an aerial ball which was controlled by Cédric Charlier before being smashed into the goal to give England a mountain to climb, trailing by three goals.
In added on time at the end of the third quarter, Hendrickx found the backboard from Belgium’s second penalty corner to all but book the Red Lions’ place in the final with England needing a miracle comeback in the final quarter.
In the 50th minute, Hendrickx sent a drag-flick into the top left corner from Belgium’s third penalty corner with Dockier scoring from the edge of the circle three minutes later to complete a clinical performance.
Belgium lost their video referral in the 54th minute challenging an England penalty corner award, but it was of little consequence as Surbiton’s Luke Taylor had a shot saved and in the dying seconds Ian Sloan missed the chance to tap in a consolation goal for an England team who will play for Bronze on Sunday against either Australia or the Netherlands.
Gall was in the England starting lineup whilst Zach Wallace came on as a fourth minute substitute and Taylor followed a minute later. Harry Gibson was not used as Pinner played the whole game.
More information about the tournament can be found the FIH website
The matches are being shown on BT Sport and the schedule for all their channels can be found here
The England Hockey match report can be found here