After narrowly missing the victory over Germany on Friday, Indian hockey team eked out another inspiring show in their second round-robin match. Registering their first win of the tournament, India defeated hosts Britain 2-1 with Mandeep Singh and Harmanpreet Singh scoring the goals for their team while Ashley Jackson pulling one back for Britain. In other two matches, Germany drew 4-4 with Belgium while Australia held off Korea 4-2. With same number of points, Australia is ahead of India in the league table on goal difference. Sunday is a day of rest and the six teams will play their next matches on Monday with India taking on Australia, Korea playing against Britain and Australia squaring up with Germany.
India played a topsy-turvy first quarter and allowed Britain to raid their territory on several occasions. The hosts earned two penalty corners within 3 minutes from the start but India custodian and captain PR Sreejesh stood like a rock and denied an early lead to Britain. After the first quarter ended goalless, India shot into the lead from a goal by Mandeep Singh in the 17th minute. In a highly enterprising run from the right, SV Sunil burst forward before sending an inch perfect pass to Mandeep, who tapped in without making any errors. Mandeep had another big chance soon after, when he collected a through ball in the British half and he had only one defender to tackle. But the Indian forward erred in misdirecting a back pass.
After the halftime ended at 1-0 in their favor, India earned their first penalty corner early in the third half, when a ball from Mandeep struck a defender’s foot. VR Raghunath tried to send a low drag-flick into the British goal but custodian George Pinner blocked it. However, the rebound fell in the path of Danish Mujtaba and his effort on the goal yielded another penalty corner. This time Raghunath’s drag-flick was not low and the rising ball hit Britain’s captain Barry Middleton on the shoulder. When the umpire awarded another penalty corner, Indian players were not satisfied and asked for a video review. The video umpire upheld Raghunath’s call and the penalty corner was upgraded to penalty stroke. Harmanpreet Singh calmly sent a stinging flick into the top left corner and India went 2-0 up, despite Pinner reading the direction well and diving for a save. Two minutes later, India themselves conceded a penalty corner, from which Ashley Jackson reduced the deficit to 2-1. In the remaining period, both teams made several goal-scoring attempts but none could prove fruitful and India emerged victorious in the end.
In the day’s earlier match, Olympic champions Germany were reduced to a two-goal deficit for their second successive match. But just as they had done against India, the mighty Germans rallied from 2-4 deficit to secure a 4-4 draw with Belgium. This match was disrupted by heavy showers and the playing arena had become water-logged. The match resumed only after the water on the turf was swept off. Germany took an early 3rd minute lead through Tobias Hauke but Belgium’s Sebastian Dockier found the equalizer in the 17th minute. Yet again, the Germans went in front in 24th minute, when Marco Miltkau found the net but Belgium cancelled that lead as well in 30th minute, when Arthur Van Doren scored. Play stopped at this point and on resumption, it was Belgium, who dictated terms. In the 39th minute, Alexandre de Paeuw scored a brilliant field goal to make it 3-2 for Belgium. That became 4-2, when Florent van Aubel scored in 41st minute. It was the 150th international appearance for Aubel and he duly celebrated it. The Germans were hard-pressed in the fourth quarter but they managed to rally themselves by goals from 51st and 54th minute goals from Marco Miltkau and Oliver Korn respectively as the fulltime ended at 4-4.
In the last match of the day, Australia defeated Korea 4-2. The world no.9 Korea kept Australia on tenterhooks until the last quarter, which began at 2-2. Earlier Australia took a 1-0 lead in the second quarter through a penalty corner conversion by Blake Govers in 27th minute that became 2-0 in the third quarter, when Eddie Ockenden scored a field goal in the 37th minute. However, in a spirited response, Korea nullified the lead with two field goals in the 38th and 45th minutes from Kim Juhun and Lee Jungjun. Australia stepped up their game in the last quarter with Trent Mitton converting a penalty corner in the 51st minute and Glenn Turner scoring a field goal in the last minute.
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