Defending champions India beat European giants Belgium by a solitary goal to progress to the semi-finals and keep alive their title hopes in the FIH Junior Men's Hockey World Cup, at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, on Wednesday.
India, who beat Belgium 2-1 in the final en route their title triumph in the last edition in Lucknow in 2016, continued their domination over the European side in junior hockey.
Shardananad Tiwari's penalty-corner conversion in the 21th minute was enough for the hosts to seal a place in the last four.
The match was a classic example of defensive class from both sides but the Indians did just enough to emerge triumphant.
India will take on last edition's bronze medallists Germany in Friday’s semi-finals.
Six-time champions Germany beat Spain 3-1 in the shoot-out after the teams were locked 2-2 in regulation time.
The other semi-final will be between Argentina, who beat the Netherlands 2-1, and France, who were too good for Malaysia, winning 4-0, in the other quarter-finals.
The Belgians started aggressively and created pressure on the India’s defence in the first few minutes, but the Indian backline produced good men-to-men marking and stayed calm under pressure to deny Belgium.
In the 13th minute, Belgium had the first shy at goal but India’s custodian Prasanth Chauhan was up to the task to deny Thibeau Stockbroekx from close range.
India's first scoring chance came just seconds from the first quarter through a creative Uttam Singh, but his effort was kept at bay by Belgium goalkeeper Boris Feldheim.
India kept growing in confidence as the match progressed and six minutes into the second quarter, secured their first penalty-corner, which was converted by Tiwari.
Tiwari was brilliantly set up by vice-captain Sanjay Kumar's dummy and the drag-flicker made no mistake in putting the ball into the net.
Two minutes later, Manjeet hit the side netting with a reverse hit.
Belgium got a penalty-corner in the 26th minute but Jeff de Winter's flick went wide as India went into half-time leading by a slender 1-0 margin.
The Belgians came out attacking in the third quarter but failed to break the resolute and determined Indian defence.
There were no clear cut chances for both the teams in the third quarter, but the Indians were guilty of holding on to the ball, resulting in less open chances.
The Belgians went all out in the fourth and final quarter and controlled the proceedings but the Indian defence did enough to thwart their opponents.
In the 50th minute, India's second goalkeeper Pawan made a brilliant diving save to his right to keep Roman Duvekot's attempt away from the goal.
Trailing, Belgium continued to press hard and secured a penalty-corner in the 52nd minute, which was saved by the Indian defence.
Three minutes from the final hooter, Belgium withdrew their goalkeeper for an extra player and also secured a penalty corner just two minutes from whistle, but once again, Pawan made a fine save to deny de Winter.
Germany, Argentina score narrow wins
Earlier, six-time champions Germany and Argentina got the better of Spain and Netherlands respectively to enter the semi-finals.
Germany scored a narrow 3-1 win over Spain via the shoot-out after both the teams were locked at 2-2 in regulation time, Argentina beat the Netherlands 2-1 and France cruised past Malaysia 4-0 to also make it to the last four.
Germany took the lead from a penalty stroke through Christopher Kutter in the fifth minute but it was short-lived as Ignacio Abajo equalised for Spain from a penalty-corner six minutes later.
After two barren quarters, it was Spain who shocked the Germans in the 59th minute when Eduard de Ignacio-Simo scored a fine field goal to give his side the lead.
There was more drama in store as just at the stroke of the hooter, Germany secured a penalty-corner and Masi Pfandt stepped up to take the match into the shoot-out, in which Paul Smith, Michel Struthoff and Hannes Muller scored, while Matteo Poljaric missed.
Spain were awful from the one-on-one situation as Abajo, Guilermo Fortuno and de Ignaci-Simo missed while only Gerard Clapes scored.
Germany is the most successful team in the history of the Junior World Cup, having won the tournament six times.
The Germans won consecutive titles in 2009 and 2013 in New Delhi, which was their last crown.
Germany secured the bronze medal in the last edition of the tournament in 2016 in Lucknow.
In the second last-eight round match, it took 24 minutes to break the deadlock when Argentina, the 2005 champions, surged ahead through Joaquin Kruger's field strike.
Kruger positioned himself perfectly at the backpost to tap in a free hit from outside the circle.
But the Netherlands responded in no time when Miles Bukkens converted a penalty-corner in the very next minute to go into half-time locked 1-1.
The Netherlands started on a strong note after the change of ends and secured four penalty-corners in quick time but the Argentine defence stood tall to thwart the dangers.
The game eventually turned out to be a heartbreak for the Dutch as an own goal in the 59th minute put paid to their hopes.
Sheldon Schouten was at the wrong end of the proceedings when he deflected in Floris Middendorp's cross from the left flank.
The match between France and Malaysia was a one-sided affair as the Europeans converted four penalty-corners, through skipper Timothee Clement (14th, 24th, 60th minutes), who scored a hat-trick, and Mathis Clement (31st) to seal their place in the last four round.