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Monday, September 20, 2021

Tokyo 2020: Hardik Singh’s counter-attack goal seals India’s place in semi-final

Graham Reid’s men were much the better side as India beat Great Britain at the Olympics for the first time in 49 years.

Written by Tushar Bhaduri |
Updated: August 2, 2021 6:49:13 am
India vs Great BritainIndia's Hardik Singh in action with his teammates during the Olympics. (AP)

Goals from Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Hardik Singh ensured India will play for an Olympic medal for the first time since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Graham Reid’s men were much the better side as India beat Great Britain at the Olympics for the first time in 49 years.

Gurjant Singh Gurjant Singh of India celebrates with teammates after scoring. (Reuters)

Since the 7-1 mauling against Australia in their second pool game, India have been dominant against Spain, Argentina, Japan and now Britain in the quarterfinals.

India didn’t give their opposition any respite, pressing them deep into their own half. Every time a British player had the ball, two or three Indians were putting pressure on him, denying an easy outlet.

The 3-1 victory was set up by the two goals, one each in the first two quarters by Dilpreet and Gurjant respectively. As Britain came back into the match and largely dominated the final quarter, India showed resilience and defensive resolve to first withstand the pressure and then putting the game to bed with a lightning counter-attack goal from Hardik.

When skipper Manpreet Singh was shown the yellow card with a little over six minutes left, India could have been in trouble, but they came through in impressive fashion scoring the all-important third goal that afforded them a cushion.

Whenever Britain managed to get into threatening positions – mostly earning penalty corners – goalkeeper PR Sreejesh thwarted them like a rock. Britain had as many as eight penalty corners, but tasted success on just one.

Sam Ward, who has battled adversity just to be at the Games, gave Great Britain a lifeline making it 1-2 through a penalty corner variation at the end of the third quarter, but it was not enough. Ward had suffered the effective loss of sight in one eye after being hit by a ball during an Olympic qualifier in late 2019. He had a crushed retina, fractured eye socket and cracked cheek but made it to Tokyo.

After their eighth hockey gold medal in Moscow, India had not made the last-four stage before Sunday, and will now face world champions Belgium who defeated Spain by the same scoreline. The other semifinal will see a clash between Australia and Germany.

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