HWL Finals: Germany begins with a 2-0 win over England

Germany was the superior side in every department of the game. Whether it was intentional or not, England played second fiddle all through the match except for a brief 10-minute period in the beginning.

Germany players celebrate a goal against England in Bhubaneswar on Friday.   -  PTI

England's seniormost player Barry Middleton had said on Thursday that the team had learnt its lessons from the previous edition of the Hockey World League Finals and would not bother with winning its games in the league stage. The team seemed to have taken his advice a tad too seriously, going down 2-0 to Germany in the tournament opener here on Friday.

It wasn't just about the result. Germany, which last went back from the city with its 10th Champions Trophy three years back, was the superior side in every department of the game. Whether it was intentional or not, England played second fiddle all through the match except for a brief 10-minute period in the beginning. Germany was in control without getting too aggressive, doing just enough to stay ahead of the opposition.

England had the first shot at the goal, Mark Gleghorne shooting straight to goalkeeper Tobias Walter's pads in the 7th minute, with no support to trap in the rebound. That was also the only serious challenge to the German citadel. The only other half chance was when Liam Sanford sent the ball crashing onto the boards in the 50th minute and Sam Ward claimed to have got a stick en route but was denied.

At the other end, Mats Grambusch and Christopher Ruhr kept troubling England. After several missed chances, Grambusch, also named player of
the match, finally stuck off after a series of exchanges in the midfield in the 19th minute. Six minutes later, Ruhr got on the scoresheet after receiving a cross from the right to go in with a comfortable 2-0 lead at half time.

Germany came close to scoring at least twice more but failed to find the gap past England keeper George Pinner. But with its own defence standing firm, the four-time Olympic champion had little to worry. Middleton had said his team would now lose all three league games and then start winning the knockout ones. His team would be hoping his words come true but going by the performance on Friday, it needs to do a lot more for that to happen. Germany would next play world and defending champion Australia on Saturday while England would be up against host India.

The result (Pool B): Germany 2 (Mats Grambusch, Christopher Ruhr) bt England 0.

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