Favourites India continued their strong showing in the men's Junior Hockey World Cup as they scored a dominating 5-3 win over England in a Pool D encounter to virtually secure a place in the quarter-finals, in Lucknow on Saturday.
India, who had earlier spanked Canada 4-0 in their tournament-opener, scored two goals in the first half through Parvinder Singh (24th minute) and Armaan Qureshi (35th) before finding the net thrice in the second half, courtesy Harmanpreet Singh (37th), Simranjeet Singh (45th) and Varun Kumar (59th).
However, it was England who drew first blood through Jack Clee (10th) before pumping in two late goals from Will Calnan (63rd) and Edward Horler(67th).
The Indians were slow off the blocks as England defended stoically giving minimal space to the home team forwards in the initial few minutes of the match.
India had the first shy at the goal in the third minute when Sumit showed fine stick work to dodge a few English defenders and cut inside the opposition circle from the right only to find the side netting with his reverse shot.
England who took lead against the run of play in the 10th minute from a counter attack through Clee’s field strike. The goal, which stunned the entire stadium, came as a wake-up call for the Indians who thereafter did not concede an inch to the opponents.
Pressing hard in search of the equaliser, India earned their first penalty corner in the 23rd minute. Varun Kumar’s try from the set piece was saved by the English defence but from the resultant attack Parvinder drew level from a move that was set up by skipper Harjeet Singh.
Thereafter, it was India all over as they secured back-to-back penalty corners but failed to utilise them.
Armaan made the scoreline 2-1 in favour of India just at the stroke of half time. Unmarked inside the circle, he just had to dab the ball inside the goal after being set up by Harjeet’s cross from the left flank which got slight deflection from the stick of Parvinder.
In the final seconds of the first half, England managed to earn their first penalty corner of the match, but they fumbled as India went into half time leading 2-1.
India continued in the same vein at the change of ends and earned their fourth penalty corner with the opening move of the second half and Harmanpreet rose to the occasion to extend the home team’s lead.
Next it was Simranjeet’s turn to register his name on the scoresheet. The move was initiated by Harjeet who intercepted he ball in the mid-half and then passed it on to Gujrant who set it up for Simranjeet to push the ball in an open goal.
Dragflicker Varun then made the scoreline 5-1 by converting India’s fifth penalty corner.
Towards the end, England went full throttle and were also rewarded with two goals -- first through Calnan’s field strike and then through a penalty corner conversion by Horler.
But that was all England could manage as India thereafter managed to hold on to their two goal cushion to pocket full three points from their encounter.
India are now leading Pool D with six points from two wins and next play South Africa on December 12. England are placed second with three points from two games and will finish off the pool engagements against lowly Canada on December 13.
Minnows Austria continue impressive run
Minnows Austria continued to impress in the ongoing men's Junior Hockey World Cup as they spanked declining Asian powerhouse Korea 5-2 in Lucknow on Saturday to remain in contention for a surprise quarter-final berth from Pool A in the 16-team tournament.
Austria, coached by former India international Cedric D'Souza, made twin strikes in the first half through Marcel Hilbert (8th minute) and Pit Rudofsky (21st) before pumping in three more after the change of ends, courtesy Oliver Binder (39th), Franz Lindengrun (60th) and Pit Rudoksky (62nd), who scored his second of the match.
For Korea, Joohan Park (35th, 56th) scored twice from penalty strokes.
In the other Pool A encounter later in the day, mighty Australia had to fight hard to scrape past gutsy Argentina 2-1 in their opening fixture of the tournament.
It was Australia who took the lead through a Matthew Bird field goal in the 31st minute before Argentina equalised in the second half through a penalty corner conversion by Maico Casella (42nd minute).
Thereafter, it was a neck-and-neck battle between Australia and Argentina as both the teams looked to outsmart each other.
In the end, it was Australia who succeeded in breaking Argentina's resolute defence and earned a penalty stroke just a minute before the final hooter which was beautifully converted by Olympian striker Blake Govers (69th).
Pool A is heading for a tight finish as three teams -- Austria, Australia and Argentina -- are in contention for the two quarter-final berths up for grabs.
Austria, who earlier drew 1-1 with Argentina in their opening game, are now leading Pool A with four points from two games and will next play Australia.
Australia, however, enjoy an advantage over Austria and Argentina as they have played just one game so far.
Argentina, meanwhile, will take on Korea in their last pool match on December 12.
Meanwhile in another game, South Africa beat Canada 3-1 to stay in contention for a quarter-final berth from Pool D.
South Africa came from a goal down to secure full three points after Canada took the lead against the run of play when Brandon Pereira gave his side the lead in the 21st minute.
But Canada's joy was short-lived as South Africa equalised through a penalty corner conversion by Kyle Lion-Cachet (26th) five minutes later. And then Ryan Crowe (41st) and Walter Pfaff (55th) scored two field goals in the second half to seal the match for the African side.
South Africa will play hosts India in their crucial final pool match on December 12, while already out of the reckoning Canada will face England.