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Pro League 2023: Great Britain men consolidate top spot with first win over Belgium since 2018

IANS | May 29, 2023 10:42 AM

LONDON: Great Britain men scored their first victory since 2018 against Olympic champions Belgium as they consolidated their hold on the top spot in the FIH Pro League points table in front of a sell-out crowd here on Sunday.

Great Britain men, who had defeated Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist India 4-2 on Saturday, handed World No.1 Belgium a 3-1 defeat as they extended their lead at the top of the points table.

Belgium enjoyed much of the possession in the first 10 minutes but it was GB who scored against the run of play off their first real opportunity of the match. Zach Wallace found Sam Ward on the baseline who crossed it in for Stuart Rushmere to then find the back of the net.

GB completed a devastating two-minute period of play with another goal. This time Jack Waller took the ball into the circle for Rupert Shipperley to take the shot. Waller had, meanwhile, continued his run towards the goal for the follow-up and was perfectly placed to slot in the rebound off goalkeeper Loic van Doren's initial save.

The hosts' third goal came off a penalty corner, Nick Bandurak firing a clean strike straight down the middle for GB to take a 3-0 advantage into the half-time break, the FIH informed in a release.

A brilliant long drag off a penalty corner early in the third quarter saw Belgium pulling one back, Tanguy Cosyns adding his name to the scoresheet.

And while the Belgians had a much stronger second half, piling on the pressure with five consecutive penalty corners at one point, they couldn't get past a stoic GB defence that ensured the home side clinched a 3-1 win.

With this win, Great Britain surged to 25 points from 10 matches (6 wins, 3 shoot-out wins, 1 shoot-out loss), opening up a 6-point gap second-placed India, 19 points from 10 matches (5 wins, 2 shoot-out wins, 3 defeats). Spain are third with 17 points from eight matches while Belgium are seventh among nine teams with nine points from six matches.

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