Red Lions make another statement at men’s Olympics

Belgium made another statement of intent as Cedric Charlier hit a double with a 3-1 victory over European rivals Germany in the men’s Olympic competition.

Charlier’s fifth minute opener was fortunate, with a speculative cross-shot being diverted into the goal via a Germany stick.

However, there was nothing lucky about the second goal, with the Red Lions attacker smashing a ferocious strike from the top of the circle under the crossbar just two minutes after his first.

Belgian penalty corner ace Alexander Hendrickx made it 3-0 five minutes after half time, with Germany’s Martin Haner netting a consolation goal from a penalty corner nine minutes from time. 

“I think we can be really happy with the performance”, said Dragons-bound Simon Gougnard. “We’ve had two good first games in the pool, which puts us in a good position and I’m looking forward to the next game [against South Africa on Tuesday] already.

“We still have some stuff to improve, so we’ll keep our feet on the ground as we haven’t done anything yet, but it is a really good start.” 

Germany captain Tobias Hauke said: “We didn’t start well. The first quarter we weren’t aggressive enough and then we needed some time to get into the game. The second half was quite good and at the end, we did have enough ball possessions in the circle of Belgium but just one goal and three corners is not enough against this team.”

Great Britain, meanwhile, saw off Canada, also on a 3-1 scoreline for their second successive victory.

GB dominated for long periods, twice hitting the frame of the goal but failing to convert in either of the opening two quarters.

The breakthrough came three minutes after half time when Liam Ansell fired home an ingenious pass from Sam Ward, who himself doubled the advantage eight minutes later with a perfectly executed penalty corner drag-flick.

Floris van Son’s superb backhand strike in the fourth quarter made things interesting, but Ansell tapped home from close range to kill off any danger of a Canadian comeback. 

“I’m obviously really happy”, said Great Britain captain Adam Dixon. “Another three points, six points in total so far, so in some ways it is the perfect start.

“I think we are still finding our way into the tournament, which is the same for lots of teams, having not played lots of international hockey in the last few weeks. I keep saying the same message: it’s about building momentum.

“We’ve got the European leg of the pool stage now, so three pretty big games [against Germany, Netherlands and Belgium] coming up, which we are going to have to be ready for.”  

GB face Germany next while Belgium are up against South Africa. The Netherlands face off against Canada. In the other group, unbeaten Australia start their day against Argentina, Japan meet New Zealand and Spain face India.