Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023

FIH Pro League 2023: Harmanpreet Singh Scores Brace As India Hammer Belgium 5-1

FIH Pro League 2023: Harmanpreet Singh Scores Brace As India Hammer Belgium 5-1

Midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad gave India the lead in the first minute of the game, before Harmanpreet (20th and 29th min) scored twice from penalty corners.

India play Great Britain on Saturday.
India play Great Britain on Saturday. File Photo

Captain Harmanpreet Singh struck a brace as India stunned Olympic champions Belgium 5-1 here on Friday after back-to-back defeats in their European leg of the FIH Pro League. (More Hockey News)

Midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad gave India the lead in the second minute of the game before Harmanpreet (20th and 30th min) scored twice from penalty corners.

Amit Rohidas (29th) and Dilpreet Singh (60th) were the other Indian goal-scorers.

William Ghislain (46th) scored the lone goal for Belgium in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

India, who had come to Europe as Pro League table toppers, had lost the opening game of the European leg to Belgium 1-2 on May 26 before going down to Great Britain 2-4 the next day.

With redemption on their mind, the Indians got off to a rollicking start with a well-executed field goal in only the second minute from the start which set the momentum for the game. It was Gurjant Singh, who set up the goal for Vivek with a fine assist from the left flank. 

India built on this early success, displayed good control of the ball, and showed the right temperament in their attacking structure. 

They mounted pressure on the Belgian defence when newcomer Sanjay forced the experienced Emmanuel Stockbroekx to make an error while making space in the Belgium half. The infringement resulted in India being awarded their first penalty corner.  

Though India could not convert this opportunity, they were successful from another PC in the 20th minute when Harmanpreet picked up a good injection from Abhishek before sending a powerful drag-flick to find the bottom corner of the board. 

A 2-0 lead put the Indian side in good stead, allowing them to play their natural game. They dominated the ball possession and continued to puncture the Belgian defence.  

In the 29th minute, Rajkumar Pal led the attack in the midfield, finding Mandeep Singh on the right flank. Not taking the shot himself, Mandeep made a surprise pass to Amit Rohidas who took a successful shot on goal and put India in a comfortable 3-0 lead. 

In the following minute, India extended the lead to 4-0 when they won yet another PC. A good injection by Hardik Singh saw Amit lead the PC variation, but his flick was blocked by the Belgian goalkeeper. However, the rebound was picked up by Harmanpreet Singh, who broke no sweat in putting the ball past Loic Van Doren.

Finding themselves on the backfoot with India taking a formidable lead at half-time, Belgium tested their opponent's defence when they were awarded back-to-back PCs in the start of the third quarter. 

P R Sreejesh showcased some fine goalkeeping skills and eventually cleared the ball to safety. 

In the fourth quarter, Belgium finally found a breakthrough when William Ghislan scored a fine field goal in the 46th minute. 

Belgium's late comeback didn't dent India's game. Determined to finish well, India stuck to their structure and produced good attacking hockey in the dying minutes, which resulted in Dilpreet Singh scoring India's fifth goal in the 60th minute to ensure their first win in the away games of FIH Hockey Pro League this season. 

India play Great Britain again on Saturday.


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