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India rally to down Germany
December 07, 2004 17:31 IST
Last Updated: December 07, 2004 18:40 IST
India rallied from a goal in arrears to beat Germany 3-1 and register their first victory in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Lahore on Tuesday.
Following defeats to Spain and The Netherlands, the Indians looked heading for another defeat after an insipid display in the first half, but pulled up their socks in the second to emerge deserving winners.
Jan-Marco Montag put the Germans ahead in the 20th minute but Sandeep Michael's equaliser in the 40th minute sparked a flurry of activity from the Indians.
They forged ahead in the 59th minute through Arjun Halappa, who scored after a solo effort, before Vivek Gupta deflected home a free-hit from Sandeep Singh from the right in the 68th minute to wrap up the match.
India will need to come up with another strong display on Wednesday when they take on Pakistan, who were beaten by The Netherlands 4-1 in an earlier match.
In the opening match of the day, Spain beat New Zealand 3-1 to score their third straight victory in the tournament.
India struggled to get the rhythm for the better part of the first-half. Germany, fielding a second string side, made a spirited attempt on the Indian post right from the start and came quite close to scoring when Michael Purps got the ball from Christian Wein in the midfield and proceeded near the Indian circle. With hardly any player challenging, Purps looked all set to give Germany the lead in the fifth minute, but much to the dismay of his teammates, he stepped on the ball.
Soon after, goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza came to India's rescue when he showed superb reflexes to stop Eike Duckwitz's attempt at the post as India hung on grimly to survive the German onslaught.
It came as no surprise when Germany took the lead after yet another attack on the Indian post earned them a penalty-corner. Montag's superb flick from the set-piece went to the right of the goal at shoulder height, beating D'Souza.
India also had their chances in the first-half but they were few and far between.
Just a minute before Germany took the lead, India came up with very good move and Vikram Pillay tested German goalkeeper Ulrich Bubolz, but the custodian thwarted the danger.
India raised hopes for the equaliser when they earned a penalty-corner just a minute before half-time, but Sandeep Singh's drag flick was deflected out by the German defenders.
India gave a little more thrust to their game on resumption and it earned them immediate results as they levelled the score with a Sandeep Michael strike.
Dilip Tirkey's long ball from the half line was stopped well by V S Vinay inside the German 25-yard and the forward dodged Bubolz, who charged out, before passing to Michael, who had no problem in putting the ball in.
The Indians grew in confidence after erasing the deficit and intensified the attack that saw them taking the lead in the last quarter of the game.
After getting the ball near the 25-yard, Halappa moved ahead swiftly past a couple of defenders, rolled the ball inside the circle and unleashed a powerful hit.
Even though Bubolz charged out in a bid to stop the attempt, the ball went through his legs. India were 2-1 ahead.
Vivek Gupta swelled the lead further, connecting home a Sandeep Singh free-hit a minute before the hooter could go off.
The victory boosted India's chances of finishing among the top four in the six-nation tournament.
With nine points each from three matches, Spain and Holland jointly lead the table.