Belgium storm into semifinals

Belgium storm into semifinals

New Zealand edge past Spain

 Belgium became the first men’s team at the Hockey World League Semifinals tournament to qualify for the last-four stage after they out-powered Ireland in a goal-filled 6-3 victory.

Belgium out-played Ireland in the first half but only took away a slim one-goal lead at the break. The scoring started with two Dutch goals coming less than a minute apart, Loick Luypaert scored via a drag-flick and Thomas Briels followed up with a field goal.

The Irish had luck on their side when they were able to cut the lead in half at the break when Chris Cargo scored in the last minute on a penalty corner play that left the Belgians with little to show for their strong first-half performance.

It was Belgium’s turn to be lucky as they climbed ahead 3-1 five minutes into the second half when a ball that was fired into the ‘D’ bounced off Irish captain Ronan Gormley for an own goal. But the Irish quickly recovered from the shock, scoring their second penalty corner goal of the game when John Jackson fired in a top-shelf shot.

After the initial flurry, the goals started rolling in on both sides with three coming in a seven-minute span. Belgium emerged from the offensive showdown on top with a 6-3 lead thanks to goals from Sebastien Dockier and Tom Boon. Boon’s goal was one of the best of the tournament as his sprawling dive on a breakawaywas just enough for him to get his stick on the ball for the marker.

In the semifinals on Friday, Belgium will face New Zealand after the Black Sticks scored a hard-fought 1-0 win over Spain.

New Zealand dominated the game early on and was rewarded when Hugo Inglis was fed a perfect pass on a breakaway and he scored to make it 1-0. But after the early success there was complete silence from both sides of the field as the win stayed tantalizingly out of reach for the Spaniards and the loss stayed too close for comfort for the Black Sticks.