England’s bid to reach a first Commonwealth Games men’s hockey final ended in cruel fashion as Australia overturned a two-goal deficit to win 3-2.
Goals from Phil Roper, his fifth of the tournament, and skipper Zach Wallace gave England a 2-0 lead at Birmingham.
But Australia, who have won men’s gold every time since hockey’s introduction to the Games in 1998, equalized through Blake Govers and Jacob Anderson before Daniel Beale hit the winner in the fourth quarter.
Monday’s gold medal match will pit Australia against India, while England take on South Africa in the battle for bronze.
Australia, ranked number one in the world, were overwhelming favorites to compete in a seventh straight Commonwealth Games final.
The Kookaburras had also won their last five games against England, their last loss coming in the 2014 Champions Trophy.
But England, ranked sixth in the world, started with the front foot and forced a series of penalty corners, the last of which produced a skirmish and David Goodfield fired wide.
Australia slowly gained the upper hand and home goalkeeper Oliver Payne stood tall to beat Govers, Aron Zalewski and Joshua Beltz.
On the last of those chances, England launched a superb counter-attack and Roper raced for Wallaces’ pass.
The angle was tight but Roper punched the ball through goalkeeper Johan Durst’s legs to send the crowd wild.
England doubled their lead four minutes into the second quarter when Nicholas Bandurak’s penalty corner hit an Australian player on the line as he entered the goal.
Wallace stepped up to convert the free kick, easily beating the static Durst.
Stuart Rushmere had a chance to increase the lead before Govers, after being denied by Payne at his near post, halved the deficit with a penalty corner.
Will Calnan was sent to sin bin for 10 minutes early in the third quarter, and England were truly up to it when Thomas Sorby’s suspension reduced them to nine men.
Australia put on the pressure but struggled to create clean chances before a huge roar greeted Calnans’ return.
But the Kookaburras equalized through Anderson’s powerful reverse finish after finding space down the left.
The goal stood after a video dismissal but England refused to surrender.
Banduraks’ effort was cleared off the line by Flynn Ogilvie and stretch Chris Griffiths fired over.
But Australia resisted late pressure at home to leave England trying to emulate the bronze medal they won in 1998, 2014 and 2018.
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