KREFELD (Germany), February 28: Young Vivek Sagar Prasad scored a brace as the Indian men’s hockey team outclassed Germany 6-1 in its Europe tour opener to make an impressive return to international circuit following coronavirus-forced break.
Vivek (27th, 28th minutes), Nilakanta Sharma (13th), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (41st), Akashdeep Singh (42nd) and Harmanpreet Singh (47th) were the goal scorers for India.
Hungry to perform, India played with an intent to win.
They went on an attacking mode right from the start, putting pressure on the German line-up. After creating potential opportunities in the striking circle, India earned a penalty corner in the 13th minute of the first quarter, which saw midfielder Nilakanta breaking the deadlock for the visitors.
However, in the next minute, forward Constantin Staib scored an equaliser for Germany. The second quarter started with the hosts putting pressure on India and earned themselves two back-to-back penalty corners in the initial minutes.
The Indian side made brilliant saves and created quick counter-attacks which led to midfielder Vivek scoring two back-to-back goals in the 27th and 28th minutes.
In the third quarter, the hosts started off on the front foot again and earned as many as six penalty corners.
However, skipper PR Sreejesh stood firm in front of the goal to keep the Germans at bay.
Soon after a solid defensive display, Indian forwards Lalit and Akashdeep netted brilliant goals in the 41st and 42nd minute, respectively to put the world no. 4 Indian teams in the driver’s seat.
Another glorious opportunity came for the Indian men at the 47th minute in the form of a penalty corner, and Harmanpreet extended India’s lead with a fierce flick. Playing under pressure, the hosts did try hard to make a comeback, and even pulled out their goalkeeper to put an extra attacker in the team but a great overall performance from the Indian side ensured a 6-1 victory.
“It was absolutely thrilling to play after so long and the coach’s advice to us was ‘go and enjoy the game’ and so we did. This was the same German side who are playing the FIH Hockey Pro League matches, and I feel we did well against this squad, considering we were playing after a year.
“We had worked a lot on individual skills and had planned tactical play against Germany back in the camp. We just had to execute it today and it was really exciting to be back with a win,” said Sreejesh.
After a day’s break, India will again take on Germany on March 2. (PTI)