A thrilling last-minute goal from Ramandeep Singh saw India clinch a 3-2 win against France in their first match of the Fintro Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium. With this win,India have picked up 3 points and sit pretty on top of the pool A table of the Hockey World League.
First quarter: Sanchez scores early for France, Zylbermann denies India thrice
The game kicked off with frenetic pace and France were on the counter right from the word ‘go’ as they looked to avenge their 1-0 defeat in the warm-ups. A defensive blunder from India proved costly as Olivier Sanchez was left unmarked inside the circle and he fired a quick shot into the goal leaving PR Sreejesh, the Indian goalkeeper clueless. India then shifted gears and launched three attempts in quick succession but were denied each time by the French custodian Martin Zylbermann who pulled off brilliant saves to keep France in the lead.
Second quarter: Manpreet, Valmiki pull India back with two quick goals
India looked the more organised team in the 2nd period as they moved the ball from left to right and vice-versa in search for vacant channels. In this process, Manpreet Singh drilled in a cross that was blocked by a French foot inside the shooting circle, thus handing India a penalty corner in the 27th minute. In absence of regular drag-flickers Rupinderpal Singh and VR Raghunath, Manpreet stepped up to the task and converted the penalty corner for India with a brilliantly executed grounded flick. Two minutes later, Dharamvir Singh made a threatening run down the right flank and found Devindar Valmiki inside the circle. The youngster, playing his first major international game scored from a close range with a powerful shot and changed the scorecard to 2-1 in India’s favour. India were 2-1 up at half-time.
Third quarter: Martin Brisac scores equalizer
The Frenchmen came back strongly in the third quarter with some brilliant passing inside the Indian half. They found a chance to equalize but were kept away by an acrobatic save from PR Sreejesh. The Indian midfield seemed a bit fragile as they gave away the ball a bit too easily to the French due to repeated turnovers. The French threatened the Indians with their attacking. Soon after, Martin Brisac came back to score a brilliant field goal from the right in the 43rd minute to set up an exciting last quarter.
Fourth quarter: Ramandeep Singh fires home the winner
The final quarter saw intense, end-to-end hockey being played by both teams and it was India who held the upper hand in most part of the last period. A winner eluded both teams for a long time but a moment of magic from Sardar Singh contributed to the winner. In the 59th minute, the Indian skipper cut past two French defenders and fed the ball to Akashdeep Singh, whose scoop was put away by Zylbermann. Ramandeep Singh dived forward to reach out to the rebound and swung the ball into the goal to slot home the winner. India will be proud of their performance as they pulled off a stunning victory after being 1-0 down. A word of appreciation for France as well, as they put up a brave fight against a team ranked much higher than them.
Match summary: India vs France- FIH Hockey World League Semifinals
India 3 (Manpreet Singh 27′, Devindar Valmiki 29′, Ramandeep Singh 59′) beat France 2 (Olivier Sanchez 3′, Martin Brisac 43′)