London: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team registered a stunning 5-1 win against reigning Olympic Champions Belgium in their second match against them in the ongoing FIH Hockey Pro League at the Lee Valley Stadium in London on Friday.
India Captain Harmanpreet Singh scored twice (20′, 30′) while Vivek Sagar Prasad (2′), Amit Rohidas (29′) and Dilpreet Singh (60′) scored a goal each that helped the team avenge the 1-2 loss in their previous match against Belgium last week.
With redemption on their mind, the Indian team got off to a rollicking start with a well-executed field goal in only the 2nd minute of the game which set the momentum for the game. It was Gurjant Singh who set up the goal for Vivek with a fine assist from the left flank.
India built on this early success, displayed good control of the ball, and showed the right temperament in their attacking structure. They mounted pressure on the Belgian defence when newcomer Sanjay forced the experienced Emmanuel Stockbroekx to make an error while making space in the Belgium’s half. The infringement resulted in India being awarded their first PC.
Though they could not convert this opportunity, the PC battery made no mistake in the 20th minute when Harmanpreet picked up a good injection by Abhishek, used a long powerful dragflick to find the bottom corner of the post. A 2-0 lead put the Indian side in good stead, allowing them to play their natural game. They dominated the ball possession and continued to puncture the Belgian defence.
In the 29th minute, Rajkumar Pal led the attack in the midfield, finding Mandeep on the right flank. Not taking the shot himself, Mandeep made a surprise pass to Amit Rohidas who took a successful shot on goal and put India in a comfortable 3-0 lead.
In the following minute, India extended this lead to 4-0 when they won yet another PC. A good injection by Hardik Singh, saw Amit lead the PC variation but his flick was blocked by Belgian goalkeeper. However the rebound was picked up by Harmanpreet Singh who broke no sweat in putting the ball past Loic Van Doren.
Finding themselves on the backfoot with India taking a formidable lead at half-time, Belgium tested their opponent’s PC defence when they were awarded back-to-back PCs in the start of the third quarter. Sreejesh, guarding the post, showcased some fine goalkeeping skills and eventually cleared the ball to safety.
In the following quarter, Belgium finally found a breakthrough when William Ghislan scored a fine field goal in the 46th minute. Belgium’s late comeback didn’t dent India’s game. Determined to finish well, they stuck to their structure and produced good attack in the dying minutes which resulted in Dilpreet Singh scoring India’s fifth goal in the 60th minute and ensuring their first win in the away games of FIH Hockey Pro League this season.
Next up, India will take on Great Britain on 3rd June 2023.