BHUBANESWAR - Australia’s quest for a record hat-trick of titles started with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Ireland in the opening Pool B match of the men’s Hockey World Cup here on Friday.

Blake Govers (11th minute) and Tim Brand scored for the winners, while Ireland’s lone goal came from the sticks of Shane O’Donoghue. Australia grew in confidence as time passed by and earned a penalty stroke in the 11th minute but the umpire’s decision was changed to penalty corner after Ireland asked for video referral. From the resultant penalty corner, Australia secured another and this time Govers’ flick found the back of the Irish net. But Australia’s lead lasted just two minutes as Ireland drew level when O’Donoghue scored after he was set up by Murray, who dribbled past two defenders to pass the ball on to the goal scorer.

The second quarter too produced exciting hockey as both the teams went on the offensive and it was Australia who came close to scoring, but Ireland captain David Harte made a fine save in front of the post to deny Dylan Wotherspoon. Five minutes into the quarter, Ireland secured their first penalty corner and Charter came to Australia’s rescue and kept out O’Donoghue’s attempt.

Towards the end of the second quarter, Australia secured back-to-back penalty corners but wasted both as the two teams went into the halfway break locked at 1-1. Australia restored their lead four minutes after the breather through Brand. Corey Weyer’s workmanship in the midfield finally helped Australia when his inch-perfect through ball found Brand unmarked inside the box and the striker scored from his second attempt.

England and China hockey teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in the Hockey World Cup 2018 second encounter of the day. China scored the first goal of the match in the 5th minute of the match when Guo Xiaoping fired in a field goal. England equalized the score in the 14th minute when Gleghorne Mark converted a penalty corner successfully to make it 1-1.

Ansell Liam banged in an impressive field goal in the 48th minute to provide England 2-1 lead, while China got a penalty corner in the 59th minute which they successfully converted through Du Talake to square the things at 2-2. No more goal was scored afterwards, as the match ended in 2-2 draw. It was the first draw of this World Cup.