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India down Belgium for second victory
June 27, 2007 00:54 IST
India scored thrice in the first-half to beat Belgium 4-1and register their second victory in the six-nation Champions Challenge hockey tournament in Boom, Belgium, on Tuesday.
Goals by Sandeep Singh (13th minute), Prabhjot Singh (18th), Shivendra Singh (31st) and Dilip Tirkey (67th) gave the Indians their second victory in three outings in the tournament.
Belgium got a consolation goal through Gregory Gucasoof's penalty-corner conversion in the 26th minute as the hosts suffered their second defeat.
India plays Argentina next, on Thursday, with the tournament taking a day's break on Wednesday.
India held the upper hand for much of the first-half, but after taking a 2-0 lead, they got complacent. Mistakes flowed from the defenders and Belgium were quick to seize the initiative to scramble home a goal.
However, the Indians tightened up in the final 10 minutes of the half and a third goal that put them high in the saddle at the breather.
It was Sandeep Singh who opened the account with a drag-flick conversion off the first penalty-corner in the 10th minute.
India should have been up 2-0 almost immediately, but Prabhjot's attempt from the right was efficiently deflected to safety by goalkeeper Cedric Degreve.
Prabhjot made amends in the 18th with an opportunistic goal as defender Thomas van den Black failed to cleanly stop a Roshan Minz hit from the right. Prabhjot pounced on the deflection and slammed home.
Hereabouts, the Indians relaxed just a wee bit to allow Belgium to forge a few moves, one of which resulted in a penalty-corner that Gucasoof converted with a powerful drag-flick.
For a brief spell, the Belgians dominated and there were signs of panic in the Indian defence. But the Belgian forwards did not have the skills to get through and India survived by the skin of their teeth.
With the match heading to half-time, India came up with a swift counter-attack from the right and Shivendra Singh, having just come off the bench, dived to deflect the ball, that came off Prabhjot's stick, to the board following a terrible mix-up in the Belgian defence.
The 3-1 half-time lead was just the launch pad that India were looking for in their quest for a second win and also to boost their goals tally that could come into play at the weekend.
In the second-half, the Indians drew a blank as the Belgians made a determined bid to come back into the game. They had more of the ball and the Indians came under tremendous pressure. However, lady luck was not with the home team that only threatened but did not score, much to India's relief.
With eight minutes left on the clock, the Indians were reduced to 10 men as Sunil Yadav was sent off on a yellow card suspension. There were tense moments in the Indian defence that just about survived.
In the final moments, India received their second penalty-corner of the game and Dilip Tirkey was on target.
The Belgians were far from finished and forced their second penalty-corner, but failed to convert as goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza easily parried the attempt.
Kiwis score third straight win
Goals by Ryan Archibald (10th minute), Hayden Shaw (48th) and Dean Couzins (62nd) carried the Kiwis to nine points from three games, while England, for whom Rob Moore (43rd minute) scored the only goal, it was their third consecutive defeat that virtually put them out of contention for a berth in Sunday's final.
In a fast-paced match played in dry but chilly weather, England did well to draw level after conceding an early goal.
But the Black Sticks hit back and made most of the opportunities to emerge clear-cut winners.
The exchanges were fast and furious with both teams resorting to long passes and some excellent ball rotation. The Kiwis were better organised in the deep defence and it helped them repel waves of English attacks.
At the other end, New Zealand had a few scoring chance and Hayden Shah's towering presence at penalty-corners proved to be a decisive factor.
It was Hayden's drive that led to a hectic goalmouth scramble from which Archibald flicked the ball home for the first Kiwi goal. Hayden was back in action in the second-half with a powerful drag-flick conversion and later, his another attempt struck Moore on the face mask leading to a penalty-stroke that Couzins converted.
In between, England, who had finished fifth in the 2006 World Cup, managed to mark their presence with Moore finding the net from a penalty-corner after Richard Alexander's attempt came off goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex.
Argentina score second victory
Argentina rode on two first-half goals to script a much-needed 2-0 victory over Japan [Images] in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament in Boom, Belgium, on Tuesday.
It was Argentina's second victory in three matches while Japan suffered their second defeat and have three points from a lone win against Belgium on the opening day.
Tournament favourites Argentina showcased their penalty-corner expertise as Pedro Ibarra (11th minute) and Rodrigo Nicolas Vila (15th) scored from set-piece play.
Japan, ranked No13 in the world, displayed plenty of pluck but could not break a tight Argentine defence that gave little away. The Japanese forced a couple of penalty-corners, but failed to convert any.
Authority was missing in the Argentine performance. The shock defeat to Belgium on Sunday seemed to have affected their confidence as they struggled to contain the nippy Japanese, who had more control in the second-half.
The conditions were indeed difficult with spells of rains, strong winds and biting cold. Argentina appeared more attuned to the situation given their superior experience and had the cutting edge over their rivals.