For the opening 30 minutes at the Wagener Stadium, Russia must have been thinking what the fuss was all about after 20 months starved of an international Test match.
But then England, who may well have had thoughts of their opening draw with Wales at the 2019 Euros on their minds, turned on the style and cast aside Russia’s compact early play with some much-needed incisive and direct hockey, led expertly by player-of-the-match Phil Roper as Danny Kerry’s side raced to a 5-0 opening Pool game win.
Ivan Ozherelev, Russia’s goalkeeper, was in on the action throughout a barrage of circle entries as the impressive Liam Ansell, Roper, a Zach Wallace fizzer, Chris Griffiths and James Gall all got in on the act in Amstelveen ahead of Sunday’s heavyweight clash with Belgium, the world champions.
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