England stun Australia, Belgium beat Pakistan

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Bhubaneswar: Sam Ward scored twice on his debut as World No. 5 England stunned five-time reigning champions Australia 3-1, while higher-ranked Belgium defeated Pakistan 2-1 in their Pool A matches on the opening day of the Hero Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here on Saturday.

Debutant Ward (27th and 56th minutes) scored twice, while Alastair Brogdon (6th) pumped in another to secure a well-deserved win for the England. Australia’s lone goal was scored by Chris Ciriello (54th min).

World No. 1 Australia fielded a relatively young team in the elite eight-nation tournament and it was quite evident from their display that the Kookaburras were going through a transition phase post the iconic coach Ric Charlesworth era.

England, on the other hand, made a bright start and surged ahead in the sixth minute when Brogdon scored from a field effort.

He won possession in the circle and defeated Australia goalie Andrew Charter with a powerful backhand stroke.

The world champions, however, came back stronger in the second quarter and earned a couple of penalty corners but failed to capitalise on the opportunities.

England doubled their lead against the run of play in the 27th minute when debutant Ward, who was called up into the team last Saturday after Harry Martin had to pull out due to an injury, smashed the ball into the empty Kookaburra goal after the ball bounced off the post.

Both the teams matched each other in the third quarter and created chances but the goalkeepers Charter and England’s George Pinner made some good saves.

Trailing by two goals, the Australians, who sported a black arm band in memory of late cricketer Phil Hughes, pressed the accelerator in the last quarter but the English defence stood tall until Chris Ciriello converted a penalty corner in the 54th minute to bring the world champions back into the game.

Soon after, Australia created some promising chances but failed to find the net. Instead it was Ward who scored his second goal from a fast counter-attack four minutes from the hooter to seal the game in England’s favour.

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