Late call-up Sam Ward scored twice as England stunned title holders and world champions Australia 3-1 on the opening day of the men’s Champions Trophy hockey tournament.
There were also wins on Saturday for the Netherlands, Belgium and Olympic champions Germany, the latter escaping hosts India 1-0 with a last-gasp goal from Florian Fuchs.
Alastair Brogdon put England 1-0 up early in the tournament opener, and Ward made it 2-0 after an initial effort against the post.
Chris Ciriello revived the Kookaburras’ hopes in the 54th but England had the last laugh when Ward, who was only picked a week ago when Harry Martin had to withdraw injured, struck again with three minutes left.
Coach Graham Reid said England got the jump on the Aussies who are playing without attacking midfielder Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Kieran Govers and Joel Carroll who are all injured.
“We created ourselves enough opportunities to certainly win the game tonight, however we let ourselves down after starting off the match slow with England scoring two easy goals,” he said.
“I thought we turned it around in the second half, controlling the game better and creating more opportunities.
“We have lessons to learn and we will refocus for tomorrow night’s game (against Belgium).”
His English counterpart Bobby Crutchley said a lot of the same things after the match.
“I thought we played well but in patches,” Crutchley said. “There is scope for a lot of improvement for us while they tried out quite a few new things since they’re not here with some first-choice players.”
Crutchley also said the pool A result was not a reflection of the sides but just one result in a long tournament.
“We beat them early on in the World Cup in the Netherlands this year but they went on to win the tournament. So I think they’re capable of coming back strongly here.”
In the other Group A match Belgium beat Pakistan 2-1 from Tanguy Cosyns and Bob Briels, with Muhammed Imran getting a temporary equaliser from a penalty stroke.
In Group B, Germany, fielding more than half a dozen players who won the junior world championship a year ago, struggled for a long time against the sport’s former superpower India.
But Fuchs finally broke the deadlock with a last-minute backhand winner to silence the 7,000-strong crowd.
The Dutch are early group leaders thanks to a 3-0 over Argentina from Mink van der Weerden, Robbert Kemperman and Diede van Puffelen.
“To start the first game with a victory is always a good experience,” Dutch captain Robert van der Horst said.
The round robin group stage continues Sunday and determines the seedings for the quarter-finals which all eight teams reach.
The final is on December 14.