Belgium trounce India

Belgium trounce India

 Belgium rubbed salt into the Indian wounds, inflicting a 3-0 defeat on the former champions in their final Pool B match of the Olympic hockey tournament on Tuesday.

Having lost all their previous four matches, India had no hopes of finishing better than last in their pool even if they had won against Belgium. They were only looking for a way out of the mess but defeat was all they deserved for their fumbling ways. India, ending the group stage without a victory for the first time, will now play in the match for the 11th and 12th places, against South Africa, the bottom-placed team in Pool A, on Saturday.

As they have been right through this tournament, they were sloppy in defence and pathetic in front of the rival goal. Also compounding their problems was the Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch, who came up with a clutch of brilliant saves to frustrate the Indians.

On a cold evening at the Riverbank arena, Belgium played a typically European game -- solid trapping, hard tackles and tight marking. They surged ahead in the 15th minute through Jerome Dekeyser’s scorcher past Bharat Chetri after a lovely passing bout between Thomas Briels and Felix Denayer had split the Indian defence.

India, in between their inconsistent play, managed to peg the Belgians back in the remaining period of the first half but they couldn’t find a breakthrough. They fluffed an indirect method off their only penalty corner of the session while Shivendra Singh’s deflection of a VR Raghunath hit came to grief on the horizontal.

Vanasch denied SV Sunil and Tushar Khandkar close to the half-time with fine saves but his best effort of the match came when Sandeep Singh fired in India’s second penalty corner a few minutes into the second half, stretching his stick out to deflect it away.

India had started the session well and if they had equalised, India could have changed the tenor of the match. The momentum shifted in Belgium’s favour soon, with the Europeans netting their second goal in the 47th minute through Gauthier Boccard as the Indians failed to sense danger and dithered with a clearance.

Belgium could have made it 3-0 but Simon Gougnard was denied thanks to an Indian referral, saying he had hit it from outside the striking circle. The Belgians did strike the third goal though, three minutes from time through Tom Boon to complete India’s misery.

Oz in semis

World champions Australia outplayed Pakistan 7-0 to ease their passage into the semifinals of the Olympic Games men’s hockey competition, while The Netherlands also stormed into the last-four stage with an all-win record after beating South Korea 4-2.

Results: Group A: 7 (Liam de Young 5th, Mark Knowles 6th, Christopher Ciriello 29th, 34th, Russell Ford 42nd, Jamie Dwyer 48th, Glenn Turner 70th); Argentina: 6 (Gonzalo Peillat 25th, 39th, 65th, ucas Rossi 33rd, Facunda Callioni 45th, 50th) bt South Africa: 3 (Justin Reid-Ross 8th, Llyod Norris-Jones 8th, Jonathan Robinson 64th).

Group B: Netherlands: 4 (Mink van der Weerden 17th, Valentin Verga 21st, Roderick Weusthof 47th, Billy Bakker 64th)  bt South Korea: 2 (Hyun Woo Nam 53rd, Lee Nam Yong 62nd).

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