Belgium humbled

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The Independent Online
Belgium 0 England 8

"We did nothing different but everything a lot better," David Whitaker, the England coach, said by way of explanation for yesterday's crushing defeat of Belgium compared with Saturday's 2-1 win over the same opposition.

The first game - the beginning of England's run-in to next month's European Cup in Dublin - was a disappointing performance, in which England were only saved by a penalty corner goal from Calum Giles - who in both matches was only used at penalty corners - and by a well-taken but gifted goal from Chris Mayer.

In yesterday's game there were improvements in a number of key areas. The second game started like the first, with England's defence looking distinctly edgy before Ben Sharpe claimed his first international goal in the 23rd minute, following a clever free hit from Jason Laslett.

A goal from John Shaw and two from Thompson came in quick succession before the interval to emphasise England's dominance in a half in which Soma Singh not only celebrated his 50th appearance for England, but also his appointment as captain for the European Cup - the first Asian to be so honoured.

Russell Garcia, with a drag-scoop to the roof of the net, scored from England's fifth penalty corner, Thompson collected two more and Sharpe rounded off a polished display with his second. A good squad performance to build on.

ENGLAND: S Mason (Firebrands); J Wyatt (Reading), J Halls (Old Loughtonians), S Hazlitt (Hounslow), Soma Singh (Southgate, capt), R Garcia (Polo Barcelona), C Mayer (Cannock), J Shaw (Southgate), R Thompson (Hounslow), J Laslett (Teddington), B Sharpe (Cannock).

BELGIUM: M Van Oost; L Kelecon, J-M Deville, M Coudron (capt), T Renayer, J Beunen, J Willems, P Pille, G Dewamme, A de Chaffoy, M Beunen.

Umpires: E Van Putten and B Hiufelaar.