The Indian hockey team pulled off a sensational come-from-behind 5-4 win over Olympic champions Germany after Mandeep Singh slammed a brilliant hat-trick in their fiercely-contested 5-8th place classification match of the Hero World League Finals in New Delhi on Friday.
World ranked 10th, India rode on Mandeep’s (18th, 41st, 53rd) three field goals and Rupinderpal Singh’s two perfect strikes from penalty corners to set up the fantastic win against the Germans, against whom India last won way back in 2004 in the Champions Trophy in Lahore, Pakistan.
In the end, it was a fair result for India who drew 3-3 against the Germans in the pool stages.
India will now face Belgium in the fifth-sixth place play-off match tomorrow, while Germany will take on Argentina to avoid the wooden-spoon in the eight-nation tournament.
In today’s match, it was the world number one Germans who enjoyed the early share of exchanges by taking a two goal lead through skipper Oliver Korn (4th) and Thilo Stralkowski (6th) before Benjamin Wess (27th) made the scoreline 3-1 in favour of the world champions at half time.
After the change of ends, Germany found the back of the India net just once when Martin Haner converted a penalty corner in the 55th minute.
The Indians, however, were slow to get off the blocks as Germany took the initiative from the onset with relentless attacks.
The Germans put the Indian defense, their perennial problem, under tremendous pressure from the word go and surged ahead as early as in the fourth minute when captain Korn gently tapped home a pass from Tobias Hauke.
Two minutes later, Stralkowski doubled Germany’s lead by perfectly converting their first penalty corner.
The Germans continued their aggressively style of play and created a couple of bright scoring chances only to waste them.
India, however, managed to pull one back in the 18th minute through Mandeep, who slammed home from the right corner of the German goal after receiving a through ball from Rupinderpal Singh.
A minute later, Germany got another scoring opportunity when they earned their second penalty corner but the Indian defense was up to the task this time.
Ten minutes from half time, Indian custodian P R Sreejesh came to his side’s rescue by pulling off a brilliant save with his legs to deny Tobias Matania from close range.
But Germany restored their two-goal advantage in the 27th minute through Wess, who scored from a rebound after Florian Fuchs initial shot was saved by Sreejesh.
Trailing 1-3, the Indians came out a completely different side after the crossover. Unlike the opening half, Sardar and continued…