Saturday, May 31, 2014

Heartbreak: Belgium ride on Dohmen's final-minute goal to silence India 3-2

Leaking early goals and late goals is something Indian hockey has been synonymous with. And Saturday was another occasion at the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague for India to stay revive those memories as they pressed the ‘nerves’ button and conceded a goal with just fifteen seconds for the final hooter to lose 2-3 to Belgium in their opening game of the 2014 Rabobank World Cup.

Vastly experienced John-John Dohmen did the spoiler act outmaneuvering PR Sreejesh, who otherwise had a fabulous day in office.
India could not probably overcome their nerves and allowed Belgium to dictate terms from the starting hooter. The Red Lions controlled the midfield supremely creating waves of attacks on both flanks, but they had to counter PR Sreejesh, who literally foiled everything thrown at him until the final stages of the first half when his citadel was finally breached.

It was largely due to Sreejesh’s heroics in the Indian goal that his side was able to stay even against the fifth ranked side. The Indian goalkeeper thwarted three short corners in the first half before Belgium nailed the opening goal through Florent van Aubel.

The Indian forwardline was non-existent in the first- half as play was confined to the Indian ‘D’. The Indian were guilty of spraying around loose passes and losing possession in critical times inside their own half.

It was a transformed India in the second half as India showed plenty of resolve to draw level almost against the run of play through splendid work by recalled Gurbaj Singh, who worked his way into the Belgium ‘D’ from the right and fed Mandeep Singh, who tapped home much to the joy of the Indian supporters at the Kyocera Stadium.

The Terry Walsh-coached side pulled ahead when Akashdeep Singh deflected home a Vokkaliga Raghunath pass from the left, which stunned the Belgians to silence.

The Redshirts restored parity when Simon Gougnard made the scoreline off their fifth penalty corner to keep the contest interestingly poised.
Just when it looked India will hold out for a creditable 3-3 draw, Belgium screwed up their happiness through John-John Dohmen.

In other day one games, defending champions Australia thumped 13th ranked Malaysia 4-0, while 4th ranked England was held to a 1-1 draw by 10th ranked Spain in the men's section.

In the women's section, hosts Netherlands swamped Japan 6-1, Australia pipped Korea 3-2, while New Zealand sneaked past Belgium 4-3.  

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