In an engrossing match batween two top-five teams in the world, a young Indian outfit showed maturity to hold the Rio Olympics silver medallists Belgium to a 2-2 draw in front of a packed Kalinga Stadium crowd on Sunday.
India took some time to settle in the match, conceding an early goal in the eighth minute with Alexander Hendrickx beating PR Sreejesh from the match's third penalty corner.
It remained one-nil in favour of the world number three at the end of the first half, but India showed their grit, and were rewarded with a goal.
Harmanpreet converted from the spot in the 40th minute, after Varun Kumar's attempt from back-to-back penalty corners hit the foot of a Belgian defender on the goal line. Then Harmanpeet Singh stepped up to give India the equalier.
India continued their domination, and in the 47th minute, Simranjeet Singh produced a cool tap in from a belligerent Kothajit Khadangbam run inside the D.
But India failed to keep the lead, conceding a 56th minute goal to Simon Gougnard.
Varun Kumar won the man of the match award . He was brilliant in chasing down, stealing and had some blistering runs on the flank.
Earlier in the day, Canada and South Africa played out a 1-1 draw to stay afloat in the tourament. In a hard-fought battle, there was very little to seperate two teams.
It was South Africa who took the lead in the 43rd minute through a fine reverse stick field goal by Nqobile Ntuli. But South Africa’s joy was shortlived as Canada equalised two minutes later when they were awarded a penalty stroke and skipper Scott Tupper took the onus on himself to level the match.
Thereafter, both Canada and South Africa pressed hard in search of the winner but they failed to breach the rival defence to eventually share the spoils.
The result kept both the teams in the hunt for a place in the knock-out round.
India next play Canada, while Belgium take on South Africa. Both the teams should win their respective wins, and in that case, the pool winner will be decided on goal difference. India's 5-0 win over the South Africans may prove crucial.
Pool winners get direct quarter-final qualification, while the second place teams go through crossover round.
Full-Time: India 2 - 2 Belgium
0' - Late work from India. But their creative move, using scoops and long balls failed the paid off. It's a draw.
2' - Indians are losing control of the match. Belgium asked a review, claiming Harmanpreet Singh's clearance was dangerous. For some time, there was some high balls. Belgium lost the referral. Rohidas then produced a good running block to deny Belgium progress.
Meanwhile, there is NO Belgium goalie. All 11 outfield players with one player with goalie privileges.
4' - Simon Gougnard equalised. Belgians swarmed the Indian D and after five touches inside the box, the 27 year old scored. Stunning move to stun the packed Kalinga Stadium.
5' - Cool defensive play from the Indian players. Then, launched an attack. Sumit, who was having some key steals, lost one, but got up to win again.
7' - Meanwhile, Hardik's down. Hamstrung. But he's up and running.
8' - Varun and Surender linked up and tried to launch an attack from the leeft flank, but the later's minus from near the flag went without troubling anyone.
10' - Some move from Belgium. The Rio silver medallists have increased the tempo of the match, but young Indians are doi ng just about enough to keep the Europeans at bay.
13' - What a play from the Indians. Kothajit Khadangbam drilled through the Belgian defence, then released for Simranjeet Singh. The youngster rewarded the move with a brilliant tap in. Just His third goal of the tournament.
0' - Varun produced a clean tackle, then released the ball using a scoop in the dying seconds. Nilakanta and Akashdeep linked up to create a tenatalising move, but no response from the players in the centre md-field. And that's the end of an engrossing quarter.
1' - Tricky play from Indian defence, with Sreejesh using his body to block Cedric Charlier. Lucky, there was no call. Play continued.
4' - Indian players have effectively turned the table on the Belgians. Their best period of play in the match. Lalit, unluckily, missed the plot. He was going for thetheatrics, and ended up being physical And the referee was just next to him. And he didn't like the agression from the Indian player.
5' - Then, India lost the review after challenging a high-ball control inside the Belgian box. Amit Rohidas failed to control a pass, giving a turn over to the Belgians. But India turned defence into an attack. Manpreet Singh could have done more with his play inside the box. he went for the opponent feet, but failed.
6' - India are making a game out of the match. Another PC for India as India showed a good team play withHardik and Nilakanta leading the charge. Then, Varun wasted the drag flick, Not even going for variation. But luckily another PC. Then a PENALTY STROKE. His push was blocked by a Belgian defender on the goal line. Then Harmanpreet Singh sent the Belgian goalie wrong way. GOAL!!! And, that's India in ascendency.
8' - PC awarded to Belgium, and Manpreet Singh challenged it saying the foot inside the box was of a Belgian player. And he's right. Boos for the referee from the crowd.
9' - After a brief domination, India allowed Belgium to dictate the terms in Bhubneswar.
10' - First PC for India. Manpreet Singh was brilliant in creating the chance. But Indian ended up earning a corner only. Harmanpreet Singh's push was blocked by the Belgian goalie. Good save with his left hand.
11' - Simranjeet Singh and Dilpreet Singh combined to test the Belgian defence, with the former forcing a save from Vincent Vanasch.
13' - Strong start from India. Dilpreet Singh produced a blistering run inside the Belgian half, but India failed to make the most out the move.
At 2nd Quarter— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 2, 2018
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0' - Belgium ended the quarter and the half one high.
2' - Belgium so far have seven circle penetration, majority of those from the centre, as against India's second. Sreejesh was called into the action against from a cracking hit, then India launched the attack. Wastes.
4' - A good spell of play for India. Won a free-hit, then used the width of the field to change the direction of the move. Kothajit kept the ball in control from a loose ball, then after few passing around, Belgians won back the ball.
6' - Desperate defending from India. Belgium won a free-hit just outside the D, and Indians did just enough to thwart the attack. Indians are losing possession after winning tackles.
7' - Manpreet Singh, what a captain. He's everywhere. Won a great tackle and found Mandeep Singh at the opposit end of the field. But Mandeep was dispossessed.
9' - First booking for the match. Green card for Akashdeep Singh. Two minutes 'break' for the delinquent player. He's tackle was late.
10' - Belgian captain Thomas Briels toying with Indian defence. India, then, found a very very good chance the equalise. But Dilpreet Singh's poor judgement or selfishness wasted it. He could have easily or graciously release the ball for Lalit who was only one-on-one with the Belgian goali. But the youngster went for the glory, and hit the side netting.
13' - India continued to lose possession. Sumit's inspired run after a clean tackle inside the Indian D, ended with Lalit losing possession after being relayed.
0' - Young Dilpreet Singh kept the possession in th dying seconds, then Lakra released the ball for Mandeep. But Mandeep failed to complete the move, his deflection failing the beat the Belgian goalie. That was some play from India.
1' - India, trailing by one goal, are the second best. Below par game from the hosts, losing possessions, missing links between the defence and attack. But fans, some 50000, are cheering.
3' - India then survived a counter attack, with the Belgians using long ball to beat the high line. Almost a goal there, but the attempt failed to hit the target.
4' - Cracking pass from Harmanpreet Singh from the left flank, but it was blocked. India won back the ball, to continue with the pressing. Lalit then spoilt the move, losing the possession in front of the D.
6' - Sumit did well to keep the possession and draw an infringment. But nothing came off it.
And goal, from PC! Alexander Hendrickx beat Sreejesh. India conceded first goal of the tournamanent. Sheer power, between the legs.
7' - Belgium forward Cedric Charlier almost found the target from his creative deflection. And they called for a review, claiming Birendra Lakra carried. And it's PC, third of the match, and all for the Europeans. Their reviews have been spot on.
9' - That's brutal from Victor Wegnez. The Belgian blocked Indian captain and conceded a free-hit inside the Indian half. India pushed forward, but the referee took control after Mandeep completed an infringement.
10' - India got a chance to slow down the pace, and take control of the proceedings after winning a tackle by birthday boy Chinglensana Kangujam.
12' - It's still Belgium, doing the talking. After wasting couple of PC's, the Europeans continued to press hard. But Indian defence doing well, so far.
13' - What a start from Belgium. Reviewed for a dangerous ball after a deflection from an Indian defender climbed high. They won the PC, and another. And what a block from PR Sreejesh.
Earlier in the day, Canada and South Africa played out a 1-1 draw.
Teams are out, National anthems' round next. La Brabanconne first, then India's Jana Gana Mana.
The last time the two teams played each other was in the final edition of the Champions Trophy earlier this year in Breda, Netherlands where India conceded a late goal to settle for a 1-1 draw.
India: PR Sreejesh, Krishna Bahadur Pathak, Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Kangujam, Shanglakpam Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Simranjeet Singh.
Coach: Harendra Singh
Belgium: Loic van Doren, Arthur van Doren, John-John Dohmen, Florent van Aubel, Sebastian Dockier, Cedric Charlier, Gauthier Boccard, Nicolas de Kerpel, Emmanuel Stockbroekx, Alexander Hendrickx, Thomas Briels (C), Felix Denayer, Vincent Vanasch, Simon Gougnard, Arthur de Sloover, Loick Luypaert, Victor Wegnez, Tom Boon
India opened their campaign with a comfortable 5-0 win over South Africa, but Belgium struggled to beat Canada in the lung-opener, winning 2-1.
A win for either side should be enough to top the pool as both the sides will have easier fixtures, Canada for India and South Africa for Belgium.
For India, ranked fifth in the world, it's a good opportunity to better their head-to-head record against Belgium.
Since 2013, both teams have played against each other on 19 occasions with India registering five wins as against Belgium's 13. One ended in a draw.
Going into the match, penalty corner conversion remains a concern for both the teams as India made use of only one out of five against South Africa, while Belgium wasted the two set pieces that came their way against Canada.
Welcome to out live coverage of the India-Belgium Pool C match of the 2018 FIH Men's Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium. Bhubneswar, Odisha.
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