Tuesday, December 9, 2014

9th ranked India shock 2nd ranked Netherlands 3-2

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

Redemption was what India was looking for after two morale-crushing defeats against Germany and Argentina. The intensity and doggedness of the Indians has impressed many, but not quite the final scoreline as late goals in both games undid the home side.

The 9th ranked Indians reserved their best for their final league tie against Olympic silver medalists as they turned in some scintillating hockey to rack up a famous 3-2 win.

It was another fast-paced encounter against and the Indians were undaunted by the reputation of the world number two side as they enjoyed more than decent possession to nullify the thoughts of a one-sided contest.

India showed serious intent to move forward, though they found it hard to breach the crowded Dutch defence. Akashdeep Singh took his side’s first attempt at the Dutch minute off a nice SK Uthappa feed from the left in the 10th minute, but his shot was blocked by Dutch goalie Blank.

It was again SK Uthappa, who created another goal-scoring opportunity in the second quarter, but Ramandeep Singh, who only had the Dutch goalkeeper to beat, could control the ball as it sailed wide. Ramandeep atoned for that engineering India’s first penalty corner in the 24th minute, which resulted into a follow-up PC, but the hosts failed to profit from that.

The Dutch gave India some jittery moments when they forced their first penalty corner in the final minute of the first half, but Mink van der Weerden’s drag-flick hit the crossbar as both teams went into half-time goalless.

The Kalinga Stadium went into raptures when SV Sunil gave India the lead in the 34th minute tapping home after Gurjinder Singh slapped it in from the outside the striking circle. The Dutch were soon on level terms when Mink van der Weerden converted their third penalty corner in the 36th minute.

There was plenty of excitement going into the final quarter as both teams looked to break the stalemate. Manpreet Singh regained the lead for India in the 47th minute off a drill-in by Gurbaj Singh. Rupinder Pal Singh converted India’s third short corner to make the scoreline 3-1 with eleven minutes to go for the final hooter.

Mink van Weerden reduced the deficit in the 57th minute, but India avoided any hiccups in the closing stages to close out a superb win. India will play 5th ranked Belgium in the quarterfinal on Thursday.

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