Indians toy with Italy

Hosts stay on top of table with second big win in as many days

India produced another devastating assault on the lesser ranks of world hockey, this time bludgeoning Italy into submission with a second successive fiery display here on Sunday.

hitman: Sandeep Singh reacts after scoring India’s first goal in their 8-1 drubbing of Italy in the Olympic Qualifiers in New Delhi on Sunday. APFeeding wonderfully off their superlative 15-1 destruction of Singapore in the opening tie on Saturday, the Indians rode on the pin-point accuracy of their drag-flickers and the brilliance of their strikers to register a thumping 8-1 victory in the FIH Olympics Qualifiers tournament at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium.

With the tempo having already been set by their women counterparts, who disposed of Canada 4-1  in the preceding clash under floodlights, the Indian men gave the motley crowd what they had come to watch.

Toying with their opponents, the Indians gave an education in attacking hockey to the Italians, just as they had done to Singapore 24 hours earlier.

While they themselves have slipped down horribly since their glorious days of yore, India once again highlighted the huge gulf in class that exists between teams in the top-10 and the others.

They kept bombarding the rival citadel at regular intervals, firing one shot after another, and the Italians, without surprise, just collapsed under the huge pressure, their only saving grace being the first-half goal they salvaged through Alessandro Nanni.

If it was the strikers who stole the limelight against the Singaporeans, then another of India’s major strengths -- drag-flickers -- sparkled, missing just one from five attempts.

Sandeep Singh, who has so often in the past left goalkeepers for dead with his blistering strikes, revelled for the umpteenth time while his lieutenant VR Raghunath showed that he too is no less, scoring from the only chance he got.

SV Sunil signaled his rich vein of form with a brace, Gurwinder Singh Chandi enjoyed another good outing, the 22-year-old striker following up Saturday’s hat-trick effort with a fine goal, while Shivendra Singh rewarded himself for all the hard running with a goal, much to the joy of coach Michael Nobbs.

Unlike the opening match where they took a while to find the target, the Indians were on course for another rout when they broke the deadlock as early as in the fourth minute through Sandeep.

Having got what they wanted, the Indians stuck to their gameplan of pushing, pushing and pushing, creating chances at will, scoring eight and missing more than a dozen for a well earned day’s break.

France sparkle

Martin Genestet hammered five goals, including a second-half hat-trick, as France took a battered and bruised Singapore for another downhill ride, blanking them 9-0.
With their tails up after defeating dark-horses Poland 2-1 in their opening tie on Saturday, France made the best use of battering rams Singapore, scoring at will to climb to second in the table.

Genestet, who was adjudged the man of the match, opened the floodgates in the third minute before team-mates Sebastien Jean-Jean and Simon Martin-Brisac struck in the 14th and 17th minutes to make it 3-0.

Genestet scored his second on the half-hour mark while Fabien Magner sounded the board in the 32nd minute as France went into the interval leading 5-0.

France continued to pound Singapore upon resumption, Jean-Jean scoring his second goal (41st) and Genestet nailing a hat-trick for a morale-boosting win.

Results: Poland: 3 (Mateusz Poltaszweski 18th, Artus Mikula 33rd, Dariusz Rachwalski 70th) bt Canada: 2 (Iain Smith 23rd, Sukhwinder Singh 54th); France: 9 (Martin Genestet 3rd, 30th, 56th, 58th, 69th, Sebastien Jean-Jean 14th, 41st, Simon Martin-Brisac 17th, Fabien Magner 32nd) bt Singapore: 0; India: 8 (Sandeep Singh 4th, 22nd , 23rd, VR Raghunath 12th, SV Sunil 30th,  38th, Gurwinder Singh Chandi 32nd, Shivendra Singh 52nd) bt Italy: 1 (Alessandro Nanni 16th).

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