Bhubaneswar: One of the title favourites Belgium, popularly known as Red Lions, put up a splendid display to edge out listless Canada 2-1 in the inaugural match of the Men’s Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here Wednesday.
Denayer Felix (3rd) and skipper Briels Thomas (22nd) scored for the Lions, while Mark Pearson (48th) got one back for the losing team.
Belgium was the dominant team as they opened their account as early as the third minute. Denayer Felix struck a ferocious hit from the left flank to put Reds into 1-0 lead. They continued with the surge, but another strike into the goal post by them in the 12th minute was denied via video referral. The first quarter belonged to Belgium as it finished 1-0 in their favour.
Belgium got the first penalty corner of the match in the 20th minute, but both their attempts were saved brilliantly by Canada goalkeeper David Carter. However, they were rewarded soon for their aggressive intent. Skipper Thomas Briels doubled their lead in the 22nd minute.
Belgium missed a scoring chance by a whisker just at the start of the second half. They got their second penalty corner in the 35th minute, but double attempts by Alexander Hendricks went wide of the post. Their 3rd penalty corner came in the 40th minute, but they could not capitalise on it either. The third quarter ended 2-0 with Belgium dominating the proceedings.
The fourth quarter also belonged to them. They got the fourth penalty corner of the match in the 46th minute. But it was thwarted brilliantly by the opposition defenders. Canada showed some intent to return to the game as they got two penalty corners in the 47th and 48th minutes. The second one was deflected well from a fierce hit by Mark Pearson to reduce the margin to 1-2.
Then Belgium weren’t much behind. They fought back to get two more penalty corners during the dying hours, but those were neutralised by Canada defenders.