Great Britain slipped to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of old foes Belgium in their opening match of the Olympic Games. Belgium led via an early goal from Jerome Truyens and despite a thunderous strike from Nick Catlin which levelled the scores at half time, a stellar second half display from the Red Lions handed them the points. Goals in quick succession in the third quarter from Tanguy Cosyns and Simon Gougnard did the damage before Cedric Charlier put the gloss on the scorewith a late fourth.
Great Britain almost scored from the first play of the match. A long aerial from Iain Lewers found Alastair Brogdon all alone in the circle but he couldn’t bring the ball under control. At the other end, Belgium won a penalty corner in the second minute. They moved the ball to Gauthier Boccard but he blazed his shot over the bar. Brogdon was causing the Belgian defence problems in the final third and his snap shot forced a good save from Vincent Vanasch. With six minutes gone, Great Britain fell behind. Shane McLeod’s side turned the ball over high up the pitch and Truyens broke into the circle to smash home for the first goal.
George Pinner performed heroics to keep the score to 1-0 with a fine block from Charlier and then produced a smart piece of stick work to deny Truyens a second. Just before quarter time, Belgium lost Sebastien Dockier after he was struck on the head with the ball.
Belgium started the second quarter well with Florent Van Aubel drawing another save from Pinner in the opening minutes. Bobby Crutchley’s team built a good spell of pressure but despite some mesmerising skills from Barry Middleton they couldn‘t get the final pass right. Just before the break, Great Britain got themselves on the board with a splendid goal. Ashley Jackson won the ball in midfield and fed Catlin who turned the defender inside out before unleashing a rocket strike past Vanasch to make it 1-1 at half time.
Belgium re-established their lead three minutes after the break from a well-worked penalty corner which set up Cosyns to find the net and then just moments later they made it 3-1 via a bullet strike from Gougnard. The third goal was harsh on Pinner who had made a fine save in the build up only for Gougnard to be allowed space to beat him with the follow-up.
In the final quarter Great Britain’s giant goalkeeper was called upon once again, this time gloving away a penalty corner from Loick Luypaert. With Great Britain struggling to create clear chances Belgium sealed the win with five minutes left thanks to Charlier’s close range effort. Crutchley’s side had a chance of a consolation with a last minute penalty corner but Jackson’s shot was deflected over the bar by a defender and Belgium took the three points.
Great Britain’s next match is Sunday at 21:00 vs. New Zealand, live on BBC Sport.