FIH Hockey Pro League: Belgium overpower USA

·2-min read

Antwerp (Belgium), May 16 (PTI) The Belgium women's team produced a dominant display to emerge comfortable winners against a youthful but energetic USA side, with the Red Panthers powering to a 3-0 victory in the FIH Hockey Pro League here.

It was Belgium's second win of their 2020-21 campaign, with the team remaining seventh in the standings but having improved their win percentage to 33.3 per cent.

USA remain bottom of the FIH Hockey Pro League table.

Fielding no fewer than five debutants, the Americans -- playing their first FIH Hockey Pro League fixture since February 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic -- found themselves defending for large parts of the game, with the hosts dominating possession and territory while also creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities.

Striker Ambre Ballenghien could have easily had a first half hat-trick was it not for some brilliant goalkeeping from USA custodian Kelsey Bing, who was beaten only once in the first two quarters when Abi Raye deflected home from close range.

Belgium continued to dominate after the break and added goals thanks to a Tiphaine Duquesne penalty corner before Reye netted her second of the match two minutes from the end of the contest.

'I think we should be very happy with this game, there are lots of positive to take from it,' said Belgium midfielder Judith Vandermeiren, who was named Player of the Match.

'It was nice for the team to have a rhythm again, as it has been a long time since we played together. I'm happy to have the three points today.' On the return to international action of goalkeeper Aisling D'Hooghe just months after having her first child, Vandermeiren said: 'I'm super happy for her, that she played her first game [since giving birth]. She is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world, so I'm happy to have her back in the team.' USA captain Amanda Magadan said: 'It has been a long time since we were able to play an international hockey game, so it was really fun to get back out there on the pitch.

'We have some things to work on, some learnings to take from this game, so that is good that we can go back now and watch the film (of the match) and come back out strong tomorrow.' The two nations will take to the field here for a second time on Sunday. PTI AH AH APA APA APA

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