EuroHockey 2013: Hosts Belgium knock out England

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Boom, Belgium
EuroHockey 2013: England men swept aside 3-0 by Belgium

Hosts Belgium dumped England's men out of the EuroHockey Championships with a 3-0 semi-final victory.

Belgium began the brightest and took a first-half lead through a sliding Thomas Briels, whose deflection soared past goalkeeper George Pinner.

Jerome Truyens and Florent van Aubel added goals as the game became a Belgian procession to the final.

England, the 2009 European champions, will play the Dutch for bronze on Sunday. Belgium face Germany for gold.

The Germans, who are the defending European and Olympic champions, defeated the Netherlands 5-3 in the earlier semi-final.

"They played a very good game," said England's Simon Mantell.

"We let them get their tails up and get a few goals ahead, then it's very difficult to break them down and create chances.

"We want to be playing in semi-finals and winning them so of course, it's incredibly difficult to take."

England had snatched half-chances in the opening period of their game but Belgium, playing to a packed venue at Boom's Braxgata hockey club, fed off the party atmosphere.

Briels's slick finish cranked up the volume further, while Truyens rifled home a second - having been left in space - and Van Aubel volleyed an excellent third.

Though Ben Arnold flashed a shot over the Belgian bar and Tom Carson scuffed a strike wide, England's best chance came through Barry Middleton two minutes from time and was turned away by Vincent Vanasch in the Belgian goal.

Belgium are the only undefeated team in the men's tournament, belying a world ranking of ninth.

"At the moment, they're probably one of the best one or two sides in the world," said England's Dan Fox.

"Some things just didn't go quite our way tonight. It's totally gutting to get this far and lose, as we have done two or three times over the past year or two.

"We'll look back on this and think it was disappointing, but it's not the end of the road - it's the beginning, really.

"We want to go on to better things and become one of the best sides in the world."

England's women, who beat Olympic champions the Netherlands in their semi-final on Thursday, play Germany for European gold on Saturday from 15:00 BST.