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Hockey World Cup 2018, Semi-final 1: 3 reasons why Belgium outclassed England

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Belgium ran riot against the English side to enter the final of the World Cup
Belgium ran riot against the English side to enter the final of the World Cup

In the first of the semi-finals of Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018, third-ranked Belgium took on the World No.7 England in the Kalinga hockey stadium at Bhubaneswar.

It was being built up as a tight affair between the two European powerhouses. It was just the first semi-final appearance for Belgium in the World Cup but that hardly showed as the 2016 Olympic silver medalists romped home to an easy 6-0 victory.

The English defence struggled to cope up with the efficient display from Belgium’s forward line led by the exceptional Tom Boon.

Boon opened the scoring for Belgium in the eighth minute getting ahead of his marker and guiding the cross into England’s net. From there on in, it was all Belgium as they kept on piling pressure on the English backline.

Alexander Hendrickx netted two goals with his powerful drag flicks as England keeper George Pinner had an off day. Sebastien Dockier then smashed home a powerful shot in the roof of the net to make it 6-0 for Belgium. Let us have a look at the 3 reasons why Belgium won 3-0.


#1 Forward line clicks as unit

The trio of Tom Boon, Cedric Charlier and Thomas Briels kept on penetrating the English defence with some sharp passes
The trio of Tom Boon, Cedric Charlier and Thomas Briels kept on penetrating the English defence with some sharp passes

It was one of the most impressive displays by any forward line in the 2018 World Cup. The English backline of Liam Sanford, Zach Wallace, Mark Gleghorne had a torrid time on the field.

The trio of Tom Boon, Cedric Charlier and Thomas Briels kept on penetrating the English defence with some sharp passes.

Boon began the scoring for Belgium via an impressive deflection of a strong hit by captain Briels.

The fluidity in Belgium’s forward line was there for everyone to see. The star of the show though was Cedric Charlier who had a great game.

The 31-year-old kept on making incisive runs into England’s circle and was rewarded for his efforts with a goal in the 41st minute.

Charlier showed some brilliant skills to beat his marker and let fly a strong half-volley shot which beat George Pinner.

Sebastien Dockier then made up for his earlier missed chance by smashing the ball into Pinner’s net in the 54th min to complete the misery for England.

#2 Alexander Hendrickx's PC conversions

England v Belgium - FIH Men's Hockey World Cup: Semi-Final
England v Belgium - FIH Men's Hockey World Cup: Semi-Final

Belgium came into this game with a poor conversion rate of penalty corners as Loick Luypaert could not get going in the tournament with his drag flicks.

The responsibilities of the penalty corner conversion were given to Alexander Hendrickx by Head Coach Shane Mcleod and the star drag-flicker hasn't disappointed.

Belgium were rewarded with a penalty corner in the 9th minute of the game. Hendrickx unleashed a fierce flick but English keeper Pinner somehow kept it out. However, he could only parry the strong flick into the path of Simon Gougnard who duly capitalized.

Hendrickx then scored with powerful flicks on either side of the end of third quarter to make it 5-0 for Belgium.

Both the flicks were placed in his favoured space between the keeper and the right hand post. To go along with his penalty corner conversions, Hendrickx had a great game in defence as well, limiting the scoring opportunities for England.

#3 Insipid display by the English forward line

England had zero circle penetrations in the first quarter of the game
England had zero circle penetrations in the first quarter of the game

England outperformed the reigning Olympic Champions Argentina 3-2 in the quarter-final with a superb display from their forward line. Liam Ansell delivered a Man of the Match performance in that game and was supposed to cause trouble to Belgian defence in the semi-finals.

However, Ansell along with James Gall and David Condon didn’t have a great game as star defender Arthur Van Doren stood tall for Belgium. Van Doren was everywhere in defence for Belgium and didn’t let the attackers a sniff of goal.

England had zero circle penetrations in the first quarter of the game. There were no clear-cut opportunities for the England forward line in the first half of the game.

England began brightly in the second half but their attacking threat was limited to penalty corners which were thwarted away by goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.

The fact that England had just six circle penetrations throughout the match as compared to 23 for Belgium says a lot about the match.


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Edited by Alan John
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