Belgium became the first men’s team at the Rabobank Hockey World League tournament to qualify for the semi-final game 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 goals coming less than a minute apart Loick Luypaert scored on a drag flick penalty corner and Thomas Briels followed up with a field goal on the ensuing trip downfield.
Ireland 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.
Belgium went 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 the own goal.
Ireland 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 goals 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 with Gleghorne scoring for Ireland. Boon’s goal was one of the best of the tournament as his sprawling dive on a breakaway was just enough for him to get his stick on the ball for the marker.
Belgium will face the winner of the New Zealand vs. Spain game in Friday’s semi-final game. Meanwhile, Ireland will look to finish as high as possible to try to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Their next test in that quest is the loser of the New Zealand vs. Spain.