Hockey: India beat Belgium

Dusseldorf (Germany): India’s drag-flick sensation Harmanpreet Singh scored twice to ensure that India beat Belgium 3-2 in a battle of nerves at the Three Nations Invitational hockey tournament here on Monday.

Earlier in the tournament, India had lost 1-2 to Belgium in their first match and drew 2-2 with Germany in their second game.

Goals by Harmanpreet Singh (34th minute, 38th) and forward Ramandeep Singh (49th) helped India win match No.3.

After playing a draw against Germany on Sunday, Belgium made a strong start against India by playing an attacking game right from the word go.

The 2016 Rio Olympics Silver Medallists showed precision and were dominant with skill and ball possession.

Though India caught them on the wrong foot early on by earning back-to-back penalty corner, India could not convert the chance. Belgium, however, came up with a brilliant field goal, thanks to Amaury Keusters to take a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute and put India under pressure.

India played cautiously in the second quarter, not allowing Belgian attackers easy penetration inside the striking circle. Meanwhile, India won two PCs in the 23rd and 24th minute but Harmanpreet Singh’s well-struck flick was blocked by Belgian defenders. The second quarter went goalless.

Going into the second half, India continued to trail but their breakthrough came in the 34th minute when India bagged their fifth penalty corner of the match.

This time Harmanpreet was impeccable with his dragflick, making sure he converted the goal to give India the equaliser.

His exploits didn’t stop at that. In the 38th minute, he converted another goal through a tactfully-earned penalty corner to help India claim a 2-1 lead over Belgium.

Though Belgium earned a penalty corner in the 40th minute, India goal keeper Vikas Dahiya did well to come up with an impressive save and kept the lead.

There was a lot of action in this quarter with both teams trading penalty corners. Belgium found success in the 45th minute through Tanguy Cosyns brilliantly struck flick. This was Belgium’s fourth PC of the match.

With the score reading 2-2, it all came down to the final quarter where both teams pushed hard and fast to seal the match in their favour.

India held their nerve with a strong fight back, constantly attacking the Belgian defence and make space in the Defence.

India forward Ramandeep Singh was the one to find the breakthrough with good assist by his compatriots in the 49th minute.

His successful shot on goal helped India regain the lead with the score reading 3-2. The Indian defenders were commendable in their effort to keep India in the lead and eventually win the match.

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