Rourkela: India fought back from a goal deficit to score four goals in the second quarter and then added two more in the final period of the match to outplay World Cup winner Germany 6-3 in a brilliant display of attacking hockey in the FIH Pro League at the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium here on Monday.
Selvam Karthi and Abhishek scored a brace each as a young Indian team made the most of its chances against an experimental German team that started well but committed several defensive errors that cost them the match.
Germany scored in the second minute when Tom Grambusch converted a penalty corner but the hosts came back strongly in the second quarter with Jugraj Singh (20th min pc), Abhishek (21st min & 50th min), Karthi (23rd min & 45th min) and Harmanpreet Singh (25th min) scoring for them. In between Gonzalo Peillat (22nd min) and Malte Hellwig (30th min) scored two goals for Germany but the reigning World Champions could not prevent India from securing a memorable victory.
This is India’s third successive win in this cluster of FIH Pro League matches and second successive win over Germany. They had earlier beaten the World Champions 3-2 in the first match of this mini-tournament and defeated Australia 5-4 on Sunday.
India, who finished third in the 2021-22 season has not lost to Germany in over five years — their last defeat to them was in Bhubaneswar in 2017 — and the hosts maintained that record with a superb comeback win. They maintained a good structure throughout the match and did not succumb to pressure.
India enjoyed 52% ball possession as compared to 48% for Germany, but the Germans had an edge in all other aspects of the game except goals scored. They had 11 shots at the goal as compared to eight by India, 21 circle penetrations as compared to 20 by the hosts and earned seven penalty corners as against four by India.
There was no inkling of the final scoreline at the start of the match as the Germans made the most of an early opportunity and scored the opening goal. Tom Grambusch converted a penalty corner in the second minute. They quelled some attacks by India to lead 1-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The course of the match took a drastic turn as four goals in quick succession in the second quarter. Jugraj Singh converted a penalty corner in the 20th minute to make it 1-1 and a minute later, Abhishek scored his first goal capitalising on a defensive lapse to make it 2-1.
Germany’s former Argentine penalty corner Gonzalo Peillat blasted home a superb penalty corner goal in the 22nd minute to make it 2-2.
However, Karthi scored his first goal in the 23rd minute when he capitalised on a superb attack to make it 3-1 and when skipper Harmanpreet Singh converted a short corner in the 25th minute for his 11th goal of the tournament, India were 4-2 up and looked like cruising to victory.
However, Germany dominated the third quarter and scored their third goal when off a superb move, Marco Milkau sent in a good ball into the shooting circle and Malto Mellwig deflected it past goalie Pawan to reduce the margin to 3-4.
Young Indian goalkeeper Pawan pulled off three brilliant saves, two off the same attack, to deny Germany more goals in this quarter.
The hosts, who had finished joint-ninth in the World Cup earlier this year, turned the match on its head within seconds of the start of the fourth and final quarter when Selvam Karthi scored as India capitalised on poor trapping by Tom Gambausch.
A total breakdown of the German defence in the 50th minute helped India score a superb goal when Dilpreet Singh sent a fine pass into the circle and Gurjant set up Abhishek with a nice square pass, who flicked the ball into an empty goal.
Germany pulled out their goalkeeper towards the end of the match and earned a couple of penalty corners but failed to convert them, the hosts thus claiming three gull points from the match.