England Men stormed into Saturday’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Final after thrashing Malaysia 7-2 in their final round-robin match in Ipoh on Friday. England had beaten Malaysia 7-3 in June 2017 at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final tournament at Lee Valley and Malaysia came close to a repeat scoreline on home turf.
Australia paved the way for England to reach the final after they beat Argentina 3-1 to maintain their one hundred per cent record.
England had to win to earn a rematch against the Kookaburras in the tournament’s showpiece and qualified in clinical fashion leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter after a goalless first nine minutes.
Mark Gleghorne opened the scoring with a penalty corner conversion in the tenth minute, before Ollie Willars found space in the Malaysian circle to smash the ball home a minute later.
Barry Middleton added the third goal in spectacular fashion just before half time to give England one foot in the final with 45 minutes to play.
Malaysia held out for the whole of the second quarter to still trail 3-0 at half time, but within a minute of the second half restart, England were back on fire.
Surbiton’s James Gall crossed the ball from the right for another Middleton stunner to put England 4-0 ahead. Sam Ward scored with an acute shot from the right with Liam Ansell waiting at the left post in the 38th minute.
A clinical penalty corner conversion from Ward in the 41st minute ensured that England led 6-0 at the end of the third quarter.
To their credit, Malaysia fought back to win the fourth quarter, but only after Gleghorne became the third England player to notch a brace, England in seventh heaven after Gleghorne scored from the penalty spot in the 48th minute.
Tengku Tajuddin scored Malaysia’s first consolation goal with ten minutes to play, deflecting the ball into the net from the ground at the centre of the circle from a penalty corner.
Malaysia then caught out the England defence, Marhan Jalil blasting home from open play in the 52nd minute.
Surbiton goalkeeper Harry Gibson played in the second and fourth quarters. Brendan Creed who was briefly incapacitated on the field after a collision with a Malaysian forward, was in the starting line-up, with Gall coming on as a fifth minute substitute, followed by David Goodfield a minute later.
Malaysia will play Argentina in the bronze medal match with India meeting Ireland for fifth/ sixth place.
England play Australia in the final at 12.30 pm GMT. The match can be seen via the BBC Sport website and on Connected TVs.
The England Hockey match report can be found here
More information about the tournament can be found at the FIH Altius website