Team GB men thrash Brazil to claim their first win of Rio 2016 hockey tournament

All three Wimbledon Hockey Club players in the men’s hockey squad were involved as Team GB comfortably saw off Brazil 9-1 at the Olympic Hockey Centre last night.

While Michael Hoare, Ian Sloan and Henry Weir were not among the six GB goalscorers, they will be delighted that the men’s team have finally picked up their first three points and sit third in pool B.

Emulating their first few matches of the tournament, the GB men started the match slowly, going behind after three minutes.

Stephane Smith was the scorer, firing a drag flick high to David Pinner’s left.

The threat of a serious shock lasted five minutes only, Adam Dixon finding the net from a tight angle on the rebound.

Middleton’s first goal came moments later, the British captain rifling a reverse stick strike from the edge of the circle.

Any expectations of Britain accelerating away having taken the lead were tempered by the Brazilian goalkeeper Rodrigo Faustinho with a string of impressive saves ensuring GB only ended the first quarter with a one goal lead.

Faustinho continued to frustrate the GB team ranked 26 places above them, but four minutes before half time star man Ashley Jackson finally grabbed goal number three from a penalty corner.

Only one goal followed in the third quarter, the ball finding itself at Harry Martin’s feet for a reverse stick strike into the open goal, Faustinho stranded having saved a Middleton shot moments before.

The fourth quarter arrived with the three-goal margin way below what GB might have expected to be ahead by, especially with goal difference so crucial in what looks to be a tight group.

It was a message that head coach Bobby Crutchley would have reinforced in the break after the third quarter, and GB responded adding five goals to the scoreline in the final 15 minutes.

Sam Ward was the first to notch up a goal to his name, unleashing a powerful drive with the reverse stick from the top of the circle two minutes into the quarter.

Goalkeeper Pinner was sacrificed in the search for additional goals with ten minutes to go, and the extra outfield man paid off.

Middleton grabbed his second, and GB’s sixth goal, finding himself with in the right place to divert a Dan Fox cross into the back of the net from five yards out.

Two minutes later, Mark Gleghorne added his first goal of the tournament from a penalty corner, sweeping past replacement Brazilian keeper Thiago Bomfim, who had come on for the last quarter.

When Middleton’s shot was stopped on the line for a Brazilian foot, you might have thought the captain would have opted to take the penalty stroke himself and complete his hatrick.

However, regular penalty taker Jackson stepped up to equal Middleton’s goal tally of two, finding the top left corner.

Ward completed his brace with just over a minute to go, deflecting Jackson’s driven cross to make the scoreline at full time a resounding 9-1.

“When they put that first corner in I wondered what had got ourselves in for but it is a testament to the resilience we have has a team. We knew the task at hand and we played well from there,” said opening scorer Dixon.

“We have Australia tomorrow which is as tough as they come but we have been looking forward to this game for a long time.

“Realistically it is a game we need to win so we will go out and give it our all.”

Despite the victory, Team GB are still five points adrift of Belgium and Spain who occupy the top two positions in the group.

To qualify, they will need two victories from their remaining games against Australia and Spain, and rely on the teams ahead of them to drop points.

Their next match is scheduled for 00:30 on Thursday morning, against top-ranked team Australia.

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