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France hold India to win hockey series
December 28, 2004 18:30 IST
Last Updated: December 28, 2004 19:36 IST
India blew away a three-goal advantage as France rallied to force a 3-3 draw in the second and final hockey Test match in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The French team had won the first match 3-1 on Monday.
The eight-time Olympic winners had themselves to blame for wasting the golden opportunity to level the series and salvage some pride which was severely dented following the loss in the first match.
They simply could not maintain the 3-0 lead they had taken by the 38th minute and wilted under pressure towards the close of the match.
The home side showed some good attacking skills in the first half, but could hardly do anything to stop the rampaging Frenchmen after the break.
Freddric Soyez emerged the hero for the visitors with a hat-trick of goals (42nd minute, 60th, 63rd), all of which came from penalty corners.
Earlier, Arjun Halappa scored twice (11th and 26th) as India went to the half time with a 2-0 lead. Tushar Khandekar's strike three minutes into the second half further swelled India's lead.
But that was all the home side could do as they watched helplessly with the visitors slamming home at regular intervals to draw level. India also missed the services of vetrean goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan who did not take the field as he was indisposed.
Rookie goalkeepers Kutappa and Shrijesh, who manned the post towards the end, could not do anything to stop Soyez from sounding the board from set-pieces.
The crowd at the Shivaji Stadium, that was aghast to see India crashing against France yesterday, surprisingly cheered for the visitors when they were going great guns in the second half.
India earned three penalty corners in the match but failed to make full use of these in the absence of Sandeep Singh, the only drag-flicker in the side.
"We played some attacking game early on but failed to maintain the lead. We played much better than yesterday, but I would have been happy to see the side win," Indian coach Jagbir Singh said.
The match brought an end to France's successful 15-day trip of India during which they won five matches in all -- two against local clubs in Mumbai and two U-21 matches in Hyderabad besides the victory against India yesterday. They lost only one match -- against Indian Airlines here last week.
"It was great series and will help our players a lot. We could not have asked for a better outing," France coach Reynard Bertrand said after the match.
India - 3 (Arjun Halappa 11th minute, 26th; Tushar Khandekar 38th)
France - 3 (Freddric Soyez 42nd, 60th, 63rd).