Belfius EuroHockey Championships
Men’s Pool A: Belgium 6 (C Charlier 2, A Hendrickx, T Boon, N de Kerpel, T Briels) Wales 0
Belgium powered to a fine win over Wales at the Belfius EuroHockey Championships, topping Pool A and going into the semi-final to play Germany.
They scored twice in each of the first three quarters to underpin the result with Cedric Charlier netting two times. The win also extinguished Wales’ long-shot at a semi-final place – they go into Pool C with one point, hoping they can avoid relegation.
In a high-octane first quarter with plenty of collisions, it took the Red Lions a while to break down the Welsh defence but they subsequently scored twice in a 30 second spell in the 15th minute.
First, Alexander Hendrickx scored with a thunderous penalty corner push into the backboard. Next, Arthur van Doren was surging forward and slipping the ball to Tom Boon who ripped home a backhand shot.
Nicolas de Kerpel got the third goal with a delightful touch around his back to redirect the ball through Ieuan Tranter from Florent van Aubel’s ball through the centre of the D. Cedric Charlier picked out the top corner for 4-0 at half-time.
Another two goals came in the third quarter as the Belgian hosts went into freestyle mode. Charlier finished off at the right post after Felix Denayer’s excellent run down the left flank.
Then came the goal of the game with some beautiful skills on display, a flip through the legs and a neat touch from Florent van Aubel to assist Thomas Briels’ simple finish.
Ben Francis went closest for the Welsh but Belgium ended the quarter 6-0 to the good. Rhys Bradshaw had another big opening but could only slap wide from James Carson’s pass early in the fourth quarter.
Reflecting on the game, Nicolas de Kerpel was delighted his side went through the group without conceding a goal: “I think it is deserved we have no goals against. We have played some solid defence and I think Loic van Doren will be happy with the clean sheet too.
“The semi-final will be a much tougher opponent. Germany will be really good, always ready for a semi-final. We have one day to see how they are playing and one more day to recuperate to get ready to beat them.”
He did have praise for Wales who endeavoured to attack at every opportunity.
“They tried to play hockey which was nice. We did win a lot of balls in the press but they kept playing and I hope for them they can get to the next Europeans because they are a nice opponent.”
Once again, the crowd was loud and loving every minute of the Red Lions entertainment.
“It’s an amazing crowd and it helps us do 10% more than we can do abroad.”
Umpires: B Bale (ENG), A Ortiz (ESP)
Belgium – Wales
15’ Alex Hendrickx (PC) 1-0
15’ Tom Boon (FG) 2-0
25’ Nicolas de Kerpel (FG) 3-0
28’ Cedric Charlier (FG) 4-0
35’ Cedric Charlier (FG) 5-0
41’ Thomas Briels (FG) 6-0