India edge Netherlands

Hosts beat Oranje for first time in 18 years; face Belgium in last 8

India edge Netherlands

A wounded India bounced back in stunning fashion, shocking favourites the Netherlands 3-2 in their final group game of the FIH Champions Trophy here on Tuesday.

S V Sunil, Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh struck a goal apiece as the hosts conjured their first victory in 18 years over the World Cup silver-medallists with the boisterous crowd at the Kalinga Stadium lapping every bit of their heroic performance.
 
Smarting from their defeats against Germany and Argentina, the Indians approached the game with plenty of intent knowing a good win will not only boost their morale ahead of the quarterfinals but lift them to third in the group.

During a tight opening two quarters where a high-pressing Dutch gave them very little space to operate, the Indians showed plenty of patience in soaking up all the pressure and choosing to attack on the counter and not send meaningless crosses.

The thought of leaving the defence at the Dutchmen’s mercy was also present on the minds of the midfielders and they always backed their defenders. While the Indian backline stayed largely intact despite being under constant pressure, they also had to thank their good fortune and a brilliant save from P R Sreejesh that kept them on level terms until halftime.

Rupinder was guilty of surrendering possession in dangerous territory on four occasions but the hasty Dutch strikers failed to make most of the opportunities.

After going toe-to-toe with the Dutch, the Indians marched ahead in the 33rd minute with S V Sunil reverse dragging in a stinging shot from Gurjunder Singh. Just like it happened against Argentina, that euphoria lasted just three minutes as Mink van der Weerden equalised from a penalty corner.

The Indians, however, refused to cave in, and started to attack a bit more as the game began to open up. With the crowd egging on every move of theirs, the Indians stroked ahead in the 47th minute through man of the match Manpreet.

After Danish Mujtaba’s double attempt was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak, Manpreet blasted home the rebound before Rupinder made amends for all his mistakes with a rasping penalty corner conversion in the 49th minute that gave Indians some cushion.

Despite the possibility of a rare and a precious win on the anvil, the Indians didn’t fall back on the defensive and chose to keep their foot on the accelerator. Often they have snatched defeat from the hands of victory and when Weerden rifled home from a short corner with two minutes to go, it left many wondering if they could hold their nerves.
They did so in fine fashion, getting a much-needed boost to their morale ahead of their quarterfinal clash against the dangerous Belgium.

England on top
England signed off their Pool A commitments in fine fashion, rallying to hold Belgium 1-1 and take the top spot.

Defending champions Australia registered their first victory of the tournament, huffing and puffing to a 3-0 win over struggling Pakistan in Pool A., while  Germany lost 3-0 to Argentina in Pool B.

DH News Service
Results: Pool A: Belgium: 1 (Amaury Keusters 9th) drew with England: 1 (Iain Lewers 48th); Australia: 3 (Jeremy Hayward 23rd, 54th, Jacob Whetton 59th) bt Pakistan: 0.
Pool B: Argentina: 3 (Matias Paredes 18th, Joaquin Menini 25th, Ignacio Ortiz 49th) bt Germany: 0; India: 3 (SV Sunil 33rd, Manpreet Singh 47th, Rupinder Pal Singh 49th) bt Netherlands: 2 (Mink van der Weerden 36th, 58th).

Quarterfinal line-up (On Dec 11): 11:30 am: Netherlands vs Pakistan; 1:45 pm: Argentina vs Australia; 5:15 pm: England vs Germany; 7:30 pm: India vs Belgium.

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