Champions Trophy: India loses to Belgium

India lost 2-1 to bottom-placed Belgium in a Champions Trophy Pool match at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Harjeet Singh of India and Simon Gougnard of Belgium during the FIH Men's Champions Trophy at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.   -  Getty Images

Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh put up a disappointing performance as it lost to Belgium 2-1 in a round-robin game of the Hockey Champions Trophy Belgium at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre here on Monday.

Belgian players — Alexander Hendrickx (25th minute) and Jerome Truyens (44th minute) — both scored through captain Sreejesh’s legs. Devindar Walmiki scored the lone Indian goal in the 30th minute.

With this loss, India dropped to the third spot in the points table with four points from three games. Britain, which earlier in the day thumped South Korea 4-1, also has four points but is ahead on goal difference.

Belgium rose to the fifth spot with the win, while South Korea (three points) and Germany (two points) are fifth and sixth respectively.

India will face South Korea on Tuesday. In other matches, Australia meets Belgium, while Germany will be up against the host.

At the start of the match between India and Belgium, the latter looked menacing from the push-back and in the first quarter it got a penalty corner but the Indian defence managed to keep it away.

The European outfit continued to push ahead the Indian failed to muster up serious attacks initially. Meanwhile, midfielder Simon Gougnard put himself in a strong position to tap in a pass from Thomas Briels but he fired over, much to the relief of the Indian camp.

Later in the second half, a soft push from saw goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh going forward but missed the ball before Kothajit Singh came to India’s rescue with a fine save near the goal-line.

Belgium got another penalty corner in the 19th minute but Sreejesh did well to stop the flick from Hendrickx.

However, Belgium scored in its fourth penalty corner in the 25th minute as Hendrickx’s hit went through the legs of Sreejesh in a big error from the Indian custodian.

India equalised five minutes later when Devindar swept home after a half-hearted clearance from goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch fell in front of the Indian midfielder, who launched a powerful shot to the right side of the roof.

After the break, the first minutes saw India earning two penalty corners but V.R. Raghunath’s hits were not up to mark. While the first one was slow and got cleared at the goal-line by Florent van Aubel, the second one was palmed away by goalkeeper Vanasch. Belgium also got a penalty corner but India denied them with the first runner.

Both the teams tried hard to take the lead and it was the Belgians who regained the lead in the 44th minute in another mistake from Sreejesh. Gougnard’s pass from the right corner was met at the near post by veteran Truyens, whose drive went through the legs of captain Sreejesh, resulting in a 2-1 lead for Belgium.

Afterwards, Gougnard continued to dominate the right side of the midfield as he once helped Tanguy Cosyns earn a penalty corner but Hendrickx’s flick went wide. Gougnard crossed for Sebastian Dockier but the latter, with only goalkeeper Sreejesh to beat, fired it over.

In the first match of the day, Britain delighted the home crowd by scoring a goal in each quarter to overpower South Korea 4-1.

Ashley Jackson opened the scoring for the home side with a clinically dispatched penalty stroke after South Korea goalkeeper Hong Doopyo brought down rival captain Barry Middleton, before David Condon scored the first of two goals when he dived in to finish a wonderful team move.

You Seungju pulled a goal back for South Korea when he fired into the roof of the net from a smart penalty corner routine to make the score 1-2 going into half time. But strikes from Alastair Brogdon and a second for Condon sealed a deserved triumph for the well-supported Brits.

In the second match, world champion Australia bounced back from a two-goal deficit to defeat Olympic champion and Champions Trophy holder Germany 4-3.

Goals from Germany captain Florian Fuchs and Tobias Hauke put them into a commanding lead at the end of the first quarter. But the Australians hit back in the second quarter thanks to strikes from Glenn Turner and Tristan White before Fuchs struck again to give Germany a 3-2 lead at half time.

Blake Govers restored parity with a blistering third quarter penalty corner, with Aran Zelewski scoring the winner seven minutes from full time.

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