Belgium edge Pakistan, Australia stunned by England.
BHUBANESWAR -- Belgium defeated Pakistan 21 while England earned a surprise 31 victory over fivetime defending champion Australia in the opening pool A matches of the Champions Trophy on Saturday. Belgium, which is considered the dark horse as it has the most experienced side in this tournament, made a strong start getting goals through Tanguy Cosyns and Thomas Briels. Captain Muhammad Imran converted a penalty stroke for Pakistan.
"It was an even game and I thought my boys played well," Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh said. "Considering that we've not played many European teams in recent months and the fact that we've been trying out new things, it's not a bad result for us." In the day's first game, Samuel Ward struck two goals while Alastair Brogdon was the other scorer for England, which earned its first ever win over Australia in the tournament.
Penaltycorner specialist Chris Ciriello found the mark for Australia, which has been forced to try out new combinations due to a spate of injuries and a few retirements. Australia is without attacking midfielder Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Kieran Govers and Joel Carroll who are all injured, while midfielders Liam de Young and Rob Hammond retired recently. "I thought we played well but in patches," England coach Bobby Crutchley said about the tournament opener. "There is scope for a lot of improvement for us while they tried out quite a few new things since they're not here with some firstchoice players."
Crutchley also said the pool A result was not a reflection of the sides but just one result in a long tournament. "We beat them early on in the World Cup in the Netherlands this year but they went on to win the tournament. So I think they're capable of coming back strongly here," Crutchley added.
Fifthranked England dominated from early on and went ahead in the sixth minute when Brogdon shot in from the top of the circle with a crisp reverseflick. The second goal came in the 27th minute through Ward, who scored following an attempt by David Condon off a long pass from Nick Catlin. Australia got one back through Ciriello in the 54th minute but Ward struck again two minutes later to douse Australia's hopes. Both teams played with black bands on their arms in memory of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died last week after being hit by a bouncer in a domestic game. The Netherlands, Germany, India and Argentina are in pool B, with all teams assured of quarterfinal knockout berths.