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Belgium Progress to Final Four with triumph over New Zealand

Last updated: January 24, 2023, 11:03 PM IST

Belgium defeated New Zealand 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIH World Cup (FIH)

Belgium defeated New Zealand 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIH World Cup (FIH)

The Red Lions struck in the 10th minute through Tom Boon and Florent Van Aubel then doubled their lead in the 15th minute. The two attacks in the first two quarters proved enough as they defended vigorously to thwart New Zealand

Defending champions Belgium stayed on course for back-to-back titles as they reached the semi-finals of the 203 FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup on Tuesday, beating New Zealand 2-0 in the quarter-finals at Kalinga Stadium.

They joined World No.1 Australia in the semifinals and await the winner of the Netherlands and Korea on Wednesday to determine a spot in the final.

READ ALSO| FIH World Cup 2023: Australia advance to semi-finals with 4-3 victory over Spain in Thriller

The Red Lions struck in the 10th minute through Tom Boon and Florent Van Aubel then doubled their lead in the 15th minute. The two attacks in the first two quarters proved enough as they defended vigorously to thwart New Zealand.

The talk before the match was the injury suffered by Alex Hendrickx leaving Belgium without their ace drag flicker for the remainder of the World Cup.

However, star striker Tom Boon took some of the worry away by scoring the first penalty corner Belgium won by perfectly dissecting the gap between the keeper and the post defender.

It was a great start to the game for Belgium, who played confidently from the first whistle and calmly circulated the ball back and forth looking for openings in the experienced Kiwi defence. New Zealand primarily tried to eliminate Belgium with quick counter-attacks, but the experienced Belgian midfield stopped any attempt to get out at half-time.

Belgium scored their second goal in the first minute of the second quarter when good work from the right by Boccard Gauthier led to a cross which was completed by Florent van Aubel to make it 2–0.

This exacerbated New Zealand’s problems as they now needed to score three goals to keep their World Cup campaign alive. The Black Sticks tried their best to stage a comeback before the break, as they had against India just 48 hours ago. But Belgium’s defense was resolute.

The Black Sticks managed to win a penalty corner in the last minute of the first half when great work from Sam Lane on the left baseline was interrupted by a Belgian foot in the circle. However, Kane Russell’s attempted drag move was well watched by goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch until the end and he dove low to the right and made a save to keep the clean sheet and two-goal lead intact at half-time.

Belgium continued to smother New Zealand, despite the switch from a high press to a midfield press. John-John Dohmen was especially impressive in the middle, swarming any Kiwi player who attempted to carry the ball out from behind.

With their counter-attacks limited, New Zealand tried to build up from behind and managed to create a few shooting chances in the Belgium circle, but Belgium always came back in numbers and shots were blocked before they could reach the ball. target.

The defending champions ended the third quarter with their best scoring opportunity when a high ball from skipper Felix Denayer found Cedric Charlier alone in the circle, but his attempt to fox substitute Leon Hayward at the near post was thwarted by the alert Kiwi shot-stopper.

New Zealand got off to a great start to the last quarter as a deliberate kick from Belgium’s Arthur de Sloover, within their defensive 25 yards, earned them a penalty corner in the first minute. The Black Sticks went with a variation as Russell pushed the ball towards Hayden Phillips on the right, who tried to deflect the ball into goal, but his effort went narrowly wide and Belgium survived.

The next big chance of the game also came to New Zealand when a dropped pass from Nick Ross was deflected into the circle by an onrushing Connor Greentree, but the ball passed the far post of the goal and missed it by a whisker.

New Zealand knocked out their keeper with seven minutes remaining to give them an outfield advantage after failing to break through the Belgian defense for the entire game. The Red Lions, however, were unaffected and kept New Zealand calmly out of their circle for most of the last seven minutes, to pull off another impressive win and secure their spot in the semi-finals as they look to defend their World Cup title .

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and was published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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