A double strike from Rupinder Pal Singh and a goal each from Lalit Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh and Harmanpreet Singh helped India beat Belgium 5-4 in the second leg of Four-Nation Hockey Tournament. India got their revenge for the double losses they suffered against the Belgians in the first leg.
The Indian men's hockey team produced a spirited performance to even things against world No.3 Belgium as they defeated them 5-4 in the second leg on Thursday after Belgium beat them 1-2 in the final of the first leg. India started the match in a disciplined manner, playing two-touch hockey to rotate the ball swiftly and accurately to pave their way into Belgium's striking circle.
It was in-form player Rupinder Pal Singh, who drew the first blood with a drag flick that was the result of an early penetration attempt by Vivek Sagar Prasad. Improvising on Lalit Upadhyay's injection, Singh fiercely put the ball into the top net, forcing the Belgians on the back foot, quite early on in the game.
However, the European side returned in the second quarter with a potent attack that put pressure on the Indian defence. A top of the circle penetration by John-John Dohmen caught Indian defender Varun Kumar off-guard, as he positioned himself comfortably to take a successful reverse hit levelling the score 1-1. With seconds remaining in the second half, India won a PC but Rupinder's flick went wide as the second quarter ended in a stalemate.
It was Belgium’s turn to force a foul in the Indian circle now and they won a PC in the 37th minute of the match. With a runner missing on the baseline as they broke too early before the flick, Belgium tried a variation that worked with Felix nudging the ball into the post, putting Belgium in the 2-1 lead. Minutes later, Rupinder scored from a penalty corner to equalize 2-2 in the 42nd minute.
Belgium won a penalty corner again in the third quarter with just 43 seconds remaining for the quarter to get over. Despite the drag flick being effectively saved by Sreejesh, Belgium kept the ball with Dohmen nudging it to Alexander Hendrickx, who found the gap only to give Belgium the 3-2 lead.
India won a PC on the counter-attack in the final quarter and this time, though Rupinder's drag flick was saved by the Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch, the rebound landed to Harmanpreet Singh who made no mistake in whipping it past Vanasch to level the score 3-3.
A match that was full of penalty corners from both teams saw India concede yet another penalty corner with less than five minutes for the final hooter and the error was punished by Belgian drag-flicker Tom Boon, whose fierce shot equalized things at 4-4.
With the clock ticking away, both teams hunted for a winner, and it was Sreejesh, who was forced to a brilliant save yet again to contain Cedric Charlier from scoring. Seconds later, forward Ramandeep Singh found himself making an ambitious circle entry from the top, turning around to beat Belgian defender and hitting the post. With Dilpreet Singh lurking around unmanned, it was another perfectly timed deflection by him that registered the win for India.
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