After two consecutive losses against Germany and Argentina, the Indian men’s hockey team have bounced back in style as they beat world #2 Netherlands 3-2 in the final group B game of the FIH Champions Trophy Hockey. SV Sunil, Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh rose to the occasion and gave India a much needed win. India finished 3rd in Group B and will play against Belgium in the quarterfinals.
Goalless First Half
The high-voltage game kicked off with some brilliant coordination by both the teams as it was end to end hockey for the first 30 mins. The Indian defense looked more organized after the return of Rupinderpal Singh. The Indian forwards were creating chances but could not complete the attacks, thanks to Netherlands’ defense that was blocking every attempt on goal. The Dutch too had a close chance just before half-time but one of their attempts bounced off the woodwork .
Sunil Opens Scoring Early In 3rd Quarter:
Just 2 minutes into the third quarter and Gurjinder Singh forwarded the ball to an unmanned SV Sunil. The Karnataka striker cleverly deflected the ball into the goal to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Soon after, the Netherlands equalized through a powerful drag-flick by Van Der Weerden in the 34th minute.
Indians wrap up the match in the Final Quarter
With 15 minutes to go and both teams levelled at 1-1, the only option available with both the teams was to attack. Manpreet Singh got his spot right and scored the second goal for India with some positioning. In the 50th minute, Rupinderpal Singh scored from a penalty corner to double the lead. The crowd at the Kalinga stadium erupted in joy as the Indian men’s hockey team were finally back to winning ways.
It was all about good defense in the last ten minutes for team India and the defenders were continuously tested by the Dutch forwards. In the 57th minute, they successfully converted a penalty corner and the scoreboard now read 3-2. Stand-in goalkeeper Harjot Singh came to the rescue and pulled off some amazing saves to deny the Netherlands team an equalizer.
Manpreet Singh was adjudged the man of the match for his impressive performance. India will play Belgium in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Belgian side have been impressive in this edition of Champions trophy Hockey as they have played quality hockey against Pakistan, Australia and England in Group A.