India men’s hockey team led 1-0 at one stage but couldn’t hold on their advantage against Belgium in Dusseldorf (Germany) and eventually went on to lose 1-2 in the three national invitational tournament. Harmanpreet Singh scored the solitary goal for India while for Belgium, Cedric Charlier (52nd minute) and Tom Boon (55th minute) netted the ball.
Harmanpreet had given India the lead in the third quarter after a splendid penalty corner conversion but that came to nothing when the hooter was blown at the end of 60 minutes with two goals conceded by the defence in the fourth quarter.
Belgium came into the contest on the back of an impressive 5-2 win against Germany in their first match on Thursday and continued where they left off. But the Indian defence led by Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet and Surender Kumar stood strong to deny them from taking an early lead.
India earned their first PC in the 19th minute with no real inroads by either teams in the first quarter. Though dragflicker Harmanpreet’s attempt was well-struck, it was blocked by the Belgian defender’s stick. India bagged another opportunity and made another effort on the Belgium goal when forward Ramandeep Singh, back after an injury, won the team their second penalty corner. This time, the Belgium goalkeeper Jeremy Gucassoff came good to deny India and early celebrations with an impressive save to deny Harmanpreet.
Post the half time break and some changes by coach Roelant Oltmans, India set up an improvised attack which resulted in India’s fourth penalty corner of the match with few minutes to go into the third quarter. Unluckily for Harmanpreet, though, he was once again stopped from adding to his goal scored tally with his fiercely-struck flick blocked away by the Belgian defenders. He tried to latch on to the rebound with a reverse hit on goal, but was slightly off target with the ball hitting the crossbar.
The fifth penalty corner, though, proved to be the difference maker. Clearly unpertubed with opportunities gone by, Harmanpreet beautifully struck the ball to the bottom right of the Belgium keeper giving him no chance to defend.
Fourth quarter saw plenty of activity but it was Belgium who made the real difference – by scoring two goals. Belgium earned their first penalty corner of the match but were denied from scoring. Still they kept at it and were rewarded for it in the 52nd minute with Charlier scoring a field goal.
In the final five minutes, Belgium won back-to-back penalty corners, but were stopped from scoring. However, India couldn’t stop Boon from converting in the 55th minute from another penalty corner.