A second-half Alexey Sergeev hat-trick underpinned Russia’s thrilling 6-3 win over Italy to join Ireland at the top of Pool A after the first series of games.
They cut loose after the turnaround after an evenly balanced first half ended 1-1. Alexander Korolev got the Russians off to a dream start with a cracking aerial in the fourth minute.
But Italy got back on terms inside 90 seconds with an equally brilliant goal. Agustin Nunez latched onto a 70-metre overhead before firing a perfect cross for Southgate’s William Cottam to slide in and deflect over Roman Rogov.
Russia edged the rest of the half but had to wait to the second period to retake the lead. Sergeev began his personal tally in the 40th minute with a neatly worked corner move. And he made it 3-1 four minutes later from the penalty spot after Dimitry Volkov’s stick was checked.
Nunez pulled one back from Italy’s second penalty corner with a tracer-bullet to the bottom right corner but the two-goal advantage was restored in the 61st minute with another innovative Russian corner move, Korolev deflecting high into the net.
Sergeev scrambled in to complete his hat-trick before Alexander Likov made it a half-dozen, profiting from delightfully selfless work from skipper Alexandre Plantonov.
Daniele Malta bashed in a consolation goal for Italy with the last touch of the game.
Pool A standings (points/goal difference): 1. Russia 3pts (+3) 2. Ireland 3pts (+1) 3. Belarus opts (-1) 4. Italy 0pts (-1)
The Swiss star man Ulli Bergmann broke the deadlock, shooting low from his side’s penalty corner.
But rapid fire strikes from Martin Babicky and Jakub Kyndal - both with major elements of fortune on their side - turned the game on its head, making it 2-1 at half-time.
Babicky guided in the third with eight minutes to go before Fabian Wullschegler missed a penalty stroke for the Swiss in the closing stages. Glenanne-bound midfielder Filip Jaros, meanwhile, is unable to play for the Czech in this tournament due to illness.
Indeed, they soaked up huge pressure but, ultimately, their greater proficiency in either circle saw Wales home.
Fergus Dunn had given the Scots the lead inside 34 seconds but Joyce levelled by half-time and Gay’s pair made it 3-1 by the 49th minute.
Dunn got one back with nine minutes left but, despite a numerical disadvantage, Wales earned a stroke late on to make the game safe.