World No. 5 Indian Men’s Hockey Team on Tuesday produced a gritty display as they beat reigning World and European Champions Belgium 2-1 to register their fourth consecutive win of their Tour of Belgium. Amit Rohidas (10′) and Simranjeet Singh (52′) scored the goals for the impressive Indian team who held onto their lead in the closing stages, after Belgium’s Captain Felix Denayer had earlier equalized in the 33rd minute.
Riding high on confidence after their 5-1 win against Spain in their third match of the Tour of Belgium, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team started their game against the hosts on the front-foot and earned a crucial Penalty Corner in the 10th minute. It was Defender Amit Rohidas who stepped up to take the strike, and placed the ball into the back of the net to give the World No. 5 team a 1-0 lead. World No. 2 and World Champions Belgium, however, did not sit back after conceding, and tried to break up play, and counter the Indian attacks. But some last-ditch defending from the Indian defenders coupled with some fine stops by P R Sreejesh meant that India took their one-goal lead into the quarter-break.
The second quarter had a similar story as the visiting team enjoyed possession in the opening few minutes, creating a few chances, but the quarter ended with the hosts putting intense pressure on their opponents. With five minutes to go for the half-time whistle, it was Belgium who earned their first Penalty Corner of the match, but India’s Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak, who replaced Sreejesh for the second quarter, made an outstanding save to deny the World Champions of leveling the scores. It meant that India took their lead into the half-time break, but the momentum being on Belgium’s side.
The Belgium team showed their quality in the opening minutes of the third quarter as they earned themselves another Penalty Corner in the 33rd minute. It was Belgium’s skipper Felix Denayer who took the responsibility to take the execution, and scored from a stunning drag-flick to bring back the teams on level terms. Both the teams seemed focused on not giving away possession cheaply, and tried to keep the possession as the quarter went on, meaning that the teams ended the period level at 1-1 with 15 minutes to play.
It was a fast start by the reigning European and World Champions as they won themselves a couple of Penalty Corners in quick succession at the start of the last quarter. However, India’s Krishan B Pathak was upto the task again as he made some crucial diving saves to deny the hosts of taking the lead. India, on the other hand, were happy to wait for the opportunity to attack at the right moment, and displayed that brilliantly when they scored a well-constructed team goal in the 52nd minute through Simranjeet Singh. The lead became even more crucial in the dying stages as Belgium attacked the visitors, winning a Penalty Corner in the last minute, but some resolute defending from the World No. 5 team meant that India secured their fourth consecutive win of the tour.
The Indian Men’s Hockey Team will face World No. 2 Belgium again on Thursday, 3rd October 2019 at 16:30hrs IST in their fifth and last match of Tour of Belgium.
Source: Hockey India