India and Belgium have played out a 2-2 draw in their second match at the ongoing Men’s Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. Harmanpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh scored the goals for the hosts while Alexander Hendrickx and Simon Gougnard found the back of the net for the Belgians.
India didn’t start off well in front of a vociferous crowd in their second game on Sunday and Belgium had most of the possession with them during the first few minutes of the crucial tie. The Olympic silver-medallists got their chance to take an early lead in the second minute as they earned two consecutive penalty corners but failed to convert both because of an alert Indian defence.
Hendricks, however, ensured a lead for the Red Lions by converting a penalty corner in the eighth minute of the game. He drag-flicked the ball past the legs of PR Sreejesh to open the account and silent the packed house in Bhubaneswar.
India also got its chances in the first and second quarter but wasn’t able to capitalise on that as Mandeep Singh deflected a layover from Dilpreet Singh but couldn’t find the post in the first and Dilpreet then hit the ball wide after getting the pass from Manpreet in the 20th minute of the match.
Belgium failed to double the lead as Tom Boon’s deflection struck the post and went out in the 28th minute of the game and the scoreline stayed 1-0 in favour of the European team.
India came charged up after the change of the ends but a penalty corner went in vain in the third quarter when goalie Vanasch put up a great effort to stop Harmanpreet Singh's powerful high flick. India then earned two back-to-back penalty corners in the 39th minute and the hosts earned a stroke after the second one. Harmanpreet had no problems in scoring the equaliser for Harendra Singh’s boys on that occasion.
India got the lead in the 47th minute when Simranjeet scored his third goal of this World Cup. Kothajit Singh went with the ball from the left flank and found Simranjeet who tapped the ball into the net standing close to the Belgian post.
Belgium played without their custodian in last five minutes of the match and that helped them to get the equaliser in the 56th minute as Gougnard slapped the ball to beat Sreejesh.
India pressed hard but couldn’t find the lead till the end of the game. However, Team India now stands at the top of Pool C with one win and one draw and they are ahead of the Belgians because of the goal difference. Earlier in the tournament, the hosts had defeated South Africa in the first game by 5-0 goals on
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