Saturday, December 6, 2014

Germany ride on last minute goal to beat India 1-0

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

How many times have India lost matches courtesy last-minute goals? The defeats against Belgium and England at the 2014 World Cup are still fresh in hockey fans’ minds. And on Saturday, one witnessed the national team being once again devastated by another last-minute goal as they lost to Olympic champions Germany at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.

Florian Fuchs silenced the noisy home crowd with a strike in the final minute, in a match in which India looked good to pull off a point.

Germans like to spray passes around the pitch, and build pressure in the midfield, but the Indians foiled their game plans a bit hustling them out of their stride for most part of the match. The confidence of beating world champions Australia in a four Test series in Australia was clearly apparent as they look undaunted by the reputation of the Olympic champions.

Germany applied pressure from the outset and forced two penalty corners in the opening quarter, but India weathered the onslaught to gradually get into some kind of rhythm. Akashdeep Singh had a good opportunity to put his side ahead, but his deflection sailed wide even as the opening quarter ended goalless.

India forced their first penalty corner in the second quarter, but Gurjinder Singh’s drag-flick after Raghunath sold a dummy was blocked by Nicolas Jacobi. Lalit Upadhyay was nicely fed by Nikkin in the second quarter, but his deflection was way off the mark. The German defence was caught napping when Nikkin essayed a pass to Sardar Singh, who could not control the ball in a one on one situation with goalie Nicolas Jacobi.

A fast-paced encounter which coast-to-coast action brought to the fore the brilliance of Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who frustrated the Germans to no end pulling off eye-catching saves time and again much to the joy of the boisterous Bhubaneshwar crowd. He foiled an attempt off Zwicker before churning out an air-borne save to deny Moritz Fuertse from scoring off Germany’s third penalty corner. Sreejesh also denied Gramsbuch as Germany found the Indian goalie a difficult wall to breach.

The Indian goalie was at his imperious best tumbling to his right, blocking Germany’s fourth short corner. Indeed Sreejesh's heroics went in vain by Germany's last-minute goal.

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