Agile forward Sebastian Dockier’s brace of goals in the third quarter gave struggling Belgium lead after Akashdeep Singh caught them unawares with a thrilling deflection of long push by Manpreet Singh at the closing stage of first quarter (1-0).
Surging from left, Dockier dashed in and hit a strong forehand four minutes into third quarter that hit covering Indian goalie Sreejesh chest on and bounced on to the gap between him and the right post to safe heaven (1-1). Shortly after strong going V Raghunath got a mandatory looking green card, and the team was playing man less Sebastian Dockier struck again from the midfield.
In the 49th minute, Tom Boom, who returned to play after missing three matches on account of injury, added another athletic goal with a strong forehand that crashed into the cage to the right of goalie PR Sreejesh.Thus, the pool topper Belgium which beat India six times out of last eight meets, did not give any forward movement for sinking Indian ship, and docked it at fort for another four years.
From the start, Belgians called Red Lions showed their intention of playing to their strength, that of attacking and scoring from field manoeuvres.
Indian warded of many attacks and at just seconds left for the first quarters, stunned the Lions. Manpreet Pushed stong from near midfield, Akashdeep showing back to the gk in the D just applied his stick to see the ball hitting goalie’s stopper and then bounce to the roof (0-1). This goal came much against the run of play.
In the second quarter, Indian goalie presented some perfect stops and saw India inching towards right direction. But Dockier’s surge and the forehand from top of D put paid to the Indian aspirations. Sustained Belgium pressured got them three penalty corners, but being their Achilles heels, they let it go
First was charged out by speeding Raghunath. Sree can take pride in thwarting other two.
As time ticked away, just ten minutes left, coach Roelant Oltmans took the biggest risk. Pulled out Sreejesh and gave the yellow shirt to Raghunath. This obviously gave India an additional teeth in attack. However, India came only once capable of scoring. One of the strikes seen struck but umpires called null and void.
Over all, India did not have in it to take on the team of Belgium’s calibre. Belgium was the deserving winner.
|… courtesy stick2hockey|