Hendrickx powers Red Lions to impressive opening win in Tokyo

Belgium won the big European derby on day one of the men’s Olympic hockey competition as Alexander Hendrickx scored a four-minute hat-trick in a 3-1 win.

Following a quiet opening two periods, Jeroen Hertzberger scored a wonderful individual effort to put the Oranje ahead early in the third quarter, but it was Hendrickx who would have the final say in the outcome.

Hendrickx netted two outstanding penalty corners either side of a penalty stroke as Belgium made a clear statement of intent with a hard-earned victory. 

When asked how he feels about being considered as one of the best drag-flickers in the world, Hendrickx said: “I don’t think about that, what others think, I’m busy with what I do with my technique with flicking, thinking about something during the flick and then all the pressure falls away”.

Netherlands captain Billy Bakker said: “It’s not the result that we want, but it’s also not the way we want to perform as a team and that’s more something that we’re not really disappointed (about), but we need to be more focused on our own quality.”

Elsewhere in the group, goals from Sam Ward, Liam Ansell and Jack Waller helped Great Britain to victory in their opening match of the competition, defeating a resilient South Africa 3-1.

Ward’s opener arrived in only the second minute of the match through a penalty corner, but the African champions were level less than 60 seconds later when Matt Guise-Brown slammed home a penalty corner. The score remained unchanged until Ansell’s miss-hit effort deceived outstanding South Africa goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse, with Jack Waller’s deflected fourth quarter strike sealing the win.  

Canada were too strong for Canada, running up a 7-1 victory with both Lukas Windfeder and Christopher Rühr both netting braces.

In the other group, Australia overcame a scare to beat Japan 5-3 having trailed 3-2 at one stage. Argentina drew with Spain 1-1, Pau Quemada rattling home a penalty corner eight minutes from full time. India saw off New Zealand 3-2.