FIH Hockey Pro League: India beat Netherlands 2-2 but lost in shootout
Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner in the final second of the match to help India fight back to a 2-2 draw in the FIH Hockey Pro League. However, the hosts secured a bonus point in a 4-1 shootout win with their experienced goalkeeper Piramin Bloc keeping the Indian attackers away.
Dilpreet Singh (22 minutes) equalized for India after Renga Tijmans gave Netherlands the lead in the 10th minute. At the end of the clock, Bigen Coen sealed the victory for the hosts but Harmanpreet scored in the last second of the match played on Saturday.
In the shoot-out, Netherlands scored through Bijen Koen and Jonas de Geus among others, while Harmanpreet Singh and Abhishek failed in their attempts for India. Vivek Sagar Prasad scored the only goal for India in the shoot out.
A side of the seat game against the Netherlands in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-22 (Men) ends in a narrow defeat!
IND 2:2 NED (SO 1-4) #IndiaKaGame #HockeyIndia #FIHProLeague #MatchDay @CMO_Odisha @sports_odisha @IndiaSports @Media_SAI pic.twitter.com/NKOxcmnaJA – Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) June 18, 2022
A defeat in their final match of the league gave India one point, while the Netherlands jumped to the top spot in a shoot-out win with two points. The two points took the Netherlands to 33 points, one point ahead of world and Olympic champions Belgium (32). The Netherlands still have three more matches to play and thus are in a good position to win the title. India are third in the standings with 30 points from 13 matches.
The Olympic bronze medalists will take on the Netherlands in their last league match on Sunday and will hope to win it and consolidate their position in the standings.
Earlier in the game, the Netherlands, backed by an enthusiastic home crowd, made a flying start by making two excellent shots on goal within two minutes of the start of the match. But luckily for India both the shots were off target.
Around the 5th minute, India launched an ambitious attack through Hardik Singh, who cut the circle from above while attempting a shot on goal, but Dutch goalkeeper Pyrmin Bloc cleared the ball.
However, it was the Netherlands who scored the first goal of the match when Dirk de Wilder defeated Indian defender Varun Kumar to find Tijman Reyenga. With no defender at his disposal, Reyenga (10th minute) took his time to take a successful shot past veteran India mentor Sreejesh to take a 1-0 lead.
A few seconds later, India struggled to create a decent opportunity with Mandeep Singh a deftly earned PC.
While Harmanpreet Singh’s first shot was blocked, and a retake was given, a goal on a rebound from a drag-flick by Mandeep Singh in the second attempt was rejected by the umpire for dangerous play.
It remained an action-packed first quarter with India building on the intensity of their attack. This time, Abhishek was challenging Block at the goal post, which resulted in a PC, but Jugraj Singh’s flick was well defended by Block.
With the Netherlands leading 1-0, Sreejesh’s inspired form was once again put to the test in the second quarter when the hosts scored back-to-back on goals through youngster Koen Bijen and Jorit Kroon. Attacked the Indian post with shots, but cautious Sreejesh kept them at bay.
Meanwhile, the Indian attackers broke the deadlock when a free-hit taken by Varun Kumar was deftly passed to Dilpreet Singh, who was perfectly positioned inside the circle, who converted the deflection into a Netherlands outpost. With the score even, India put pressure in the Dutch half but could not score from it.
Seven minutes into the third quarter, Jasper Brinkmann made a fine attack to help his team win a PC. But the drag flick was well defended by Sreejesh.
A retake given for a dangerous game gave the hosts another chance to take the lead, but complicity in execution did not give them a chance to score. India also won a PC later in the third quarter with good stick work from Hardik, but poor execution of the set-piece did not give India a chance to take a 2-1 lead.
With both the teams tied 1-1, the final quarter promised to bite nails with fast-paced games being played.
The Netherlands eventually managed to strike in the 47th minute, when Koen Bijn made a good assist from Stijn van Heijningen, who scored a fine field goal for the Dutch to beat defender Surendra Kumar, to take the score 2–1. India, not a team to give up till the last hooter, came up with some exciting play as they pushed forward in their attack.
After a few failed moves, and time was running out, Vivek Sagar Prasad created a much-needed opportunity for India with only two seconds remaining for the final hooter.
PC was perfectly executed with the Pro League’s highest goal-scorer Harmanpreet scoring on the buzzer to take the match into a shootout.