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India beat Belgium to stay in reckoning
May 12, 2008 16:12 IST
Last Updated: May 12, 2008 16:49 IST
India warded off a spirited second half resurgence by Belgium to script a 6-4 victory and keep themselves afloat in the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament, in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Monday.
The Indians opened up a flattering 5-1 lead by half-time, but their opponents fought back brilliantly to score three goals in the second session. The young Indians held on their lead to register their second successive win in the seven-nation tournament.
Shivendra Singh and Sandeep Singh rammed in two goals while S V Sunil and Diwakar Ram chipped in with a goal each in the fast-paced contest which saw India frittering away a few scoring opportunities.
Alexender de Sadeleere, Jerome Trueyns, Thomas Briels and Charles Vandewgheles were the scorers for Belgium, who very nearly caught up with the Indians in the second session.
India have now garnered six points from four matches and are showing signs of an improvement after losing their first two matches, to New Zealand [Images] and Argentina.
The team, comprising mainly juniors, started off with a flourish, scoring as many as five goals in the opening session, but lost their rhythm after the interval, with the forward line failing to break through the rival defence.
Belgium dominated the initial minutes before India scored its first goal through Shivendra Singh in the ninth minute.
Despite the early goal, India appeared tentative, but a few clever substitutions and placement of players by coach A K Bansal helped the team pick up the momentum.
India showed commendable perfection in converting penalty-corners. Four goals of the six were scored from the set-pieces.
In 22nd minute, young drag-flicker Diwakar Ram netted the second goal, but two minutes later de Sadeleere reduced the margin for Belgium, also scoring from a penalty-corner.
Sandeep Singh was introduced in place of Innocent Kullu after Belgium converted its first penalty-corner and the experienced drag-flicker scored two valuable goals.
Struggling winger Sarwanjit Singh, who missed a sitter in the 12th minute, was replaced first with S V Sunil and then Mandeep Antil and this move helped India.
India extended the lead when Diwakar's senior pro Sandeep beat the Belgian goalkeeper in 29th minute to make it 3-1.
In the 32nd minute, an unmarked S V Sunil dodged pass the defenders and scored the fourth one for India from a well-organised move down the right flank.
Just before the half-time, Sandeep converted on another penalty-corner to help India go into the break with a big lead.
Belgium dominated the proceedings in a large way in the second half and pumped in as many as three goals through True (45th), Briels (59th) and Vandewegheles (61st) to rattle the Indian camp.
However, Shivendra completed his brace in the 67th minute to bring cheers to his side.
Belgian coach Adam Commens said the Indian drag-flickers made the difference in the match.
"Two penalty-corner shots of the Indians could not be sighted. Our goalkeeper dived the wrong way once. We did not play badly, but if the rival team converts all the penalty-corners, that is our concern," said the dejected coach.
"We had better of exchanges, more circle penetration, but failed to win the match," he rued.