Indian men’s hockey team produced a gritty display to defeat the reigning World and European champions Belgium 2-1 and register their fourth consecutive win of the Belgium tour in Antwerp on Tuesday. Amit Rohidas (10th minute) and Simranjeet Singh (52nd) scored for the visitors.
Riding high on confidence after their commanding 5-1 win over Spain in the third match of the Tour of Belgium, the Indian men’s hockey team started the game on the front foot against the hosts and earned a penalty corner in the 10th minute. It was duly converted by defender Rohidas to give his side the lead. Belgium, however, did not back down and tried to counter the Indian attacks but some last-ditch defending from the Indians coupled with some fine saves by experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh helped the visitors go into the first quarter break with a slender one-goal lead.
The second 15 minutes went by in similar fashion as the visiting team enjoyed possession in the opening few minutes but the quarter ended with the hosts putting intense pressure on their opponents. Belgium earned their first penalty corner of the match with five minutes to go for half-time, but Indian custodian Krishan B Pathak, who replaced Sreejesh for the second quarter, made a terrific save to deny the world champions from equaling the scoreline. India, thus, went into the half with a one-goal lead.
Belgium showed their quality in the opening minutes of the third quarter as they secured another penalty corner in the 33rd minute and skipper Denayer scored with stunning drag-flick to level the scores. Thereafter, the third quarter ended on level terms with both the teams focused on not losing possession cheaply.
Belgium started the final quarter on an attacking note by winning a couple of penalty corners in quick succession but they could not convert them. India, on the other hand, were happy to sit back and wait for their opportunity which landed on Simranjeet’s stick on the 52nd minute and he scored to restore India’s one-goal advantage.
Belgium attacked in numbers in the dying stages of the match and earned another penalty corner, but the Indians came up with some resolute defending to secure their fourth consecutive win of the tour.
The Indian men’s hockey team will again face Belgium on Thursday.
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