India hold Belgium 2-2 in exciting clash
Bhubaneshwar, December 2: Hosts India produced a spirited effort to eke out a 2-2 draw against Olympic silver medallists Belgium in an evenly-contested Pool C match of the men’s hockey World Cup in Bhubaneshwar on Sunday.
Pegged back by Alenander Hendricks’ goal in the eighth minute, India made a valiant comeback after the change of ends, scoring two goals in the third and fourth quarter through Harmanpreet Singh (39th) and Simranjeet Singh (47th) to take the lead.
But the hosts defence faltered in the final minutes and conceded a late goal when Simon Gougnard scored in the 56th minute to draw level.
The draw, however, enabled world no. 5 India to take the top spot in Pool C ahead of Belgium on goal difference. Both teams have a win and a draw from two outings.
India had earlier blanked South Africa 5-0 in their opener, while world no. 3 Belgium pulled off a close 2-1 win over Canada.
India will play Canada in their last pool match on December 8, while Belgium will be up against South Africa on the same day.
Contrary to their last match, the Indians completely looked out of sorts in the opening two quarters against Belgium.
The hosts lacked co-ordination in the midfield and that gave them hardly any scoring opportunities.
The Indians were slow to get off the blocks as the Red Lions dominated the proceedings in the first two quarters, threatening the hosts defence on a number of occasions.
Belgium got their first scoring opportunity in the second minute in the form of back-to-back penalty corners but failed to get past the Indian defence.
Another penalty corner in the eighth minute resulted in Belgium’s first goal through Hendricks, who sounded the board with a ground flick in between the legs of Indian custodian P R Sreejesh. (PTI)