India rout France 6-2; Belgium enter final

India rout France 6-2; Belgium enter final

The Indian men’s hockey team finally tasted some success in the FIH World League Round 3 when they defeated lower-ranked France 6-2 to qualify for the fifth-sixth position play-off match here on Friday.

Later in the day, Belgium defeated New Zealand 3-2 to enter the final where they will meet the winner of the second semifinal between Australia and Netherlands.
India’s goals came from the sticks of Akashdeep Singh (13th minute), vice-captain V R Raghunath (27th), S V Sunil (33rd), captain Sardar Singh (42nd) and Mandeep Singh (56th, 69th).

For France, Hugo Genestet scored from a field effort in the third minute while their second goal came from a penalty corner by Guillaume Deront in the final minute of the game.
India will now play seventh-ranked Spain in the fifth-sixth place play-off match on Sunday. Spain eked out a 1-0 win over Ireland in another classification match earlier in the day.

The Frenchmen stunned India when Genestet scored a field goal early. The fragile Indian defence was once again at the receiving end and it could have been worse for Michael Nobbs’ boys had France converted two penalty corners that came their way early in the first half.

Indians got their act together and drew parity when Akashdeep scored from a rebound. India doubled their lead in the 27th minute through Raghunath who converted his team’s first penalty corner, before Sunil made it 3-1 six minutes later Skipper Sadar Singh extended India’s lead deflecting in Dharamvir Singh’s free hit.

Striker Mandeep scored his first goal in the 56th minute. Mandeep was yet again in thick of things in the penultimate minute of the game, gently pushing in Sunil’s diagonal cross from close range.

Result (Semifinal): Belgium 3 (Thomas Briels 5th, Tom Boon 28th, 38th) bt New Zealand 2 (Blair Hilton 18th, Andy Hayward 56th)

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