India’s brilliant second leg run in the Four-Nations Invitational Tournament ended in heartbreak as the side went down to Belgium in penalties after ending 4-4 in regulation time. In the other game of the day, Japan defeated New Zealand 4-1 in the shootout to clinch the bronze medal.
India started the game on the defensive with the World No.3 Belgium keeping their goalkeeper, PR Sreejesh, on his toes in the first quarter. Sreejesh had to save as many as three penalty corners that included one from the ever-dangerous Loick Luypaert. After living dangerously in the first quarter, it was India’s time to make Belgium regret their missed chances and they did it perfectly through Ramaneep Singh.
With two back-to-back penalty corners at the very start of the second quarter, India had made their intentions known. Before Belgium could react, some clever work by Mandeep Singh found Ramandeep at the top circle, who had all the time in the world to control the ball, to pick his spot.
Belgium showed more intent in the third quarter by upping their tempo and got their equalizer through Tanguy Cosyns from a penalty corner in the 41st minute. However, the stalemate was short lived as Mandeep turned scorer this time, as he latched on to an assist by Nilakanta Sharma, to restore the
The intense final quarter saw as many as four goals. While India regained the lead twice at 3-2 and 4-3 through Mandeep and Ramandeep, the Belgium side saw Amaury Keusters and Felix Denayer ensuring that the game went into penalties. However, the brilliant game of grit and determination ended in a one-sided penalty shootout that saw India missing all their chances as Belgium won 3-0.