Hockey Pro League: India stuns world number one Belgium 2-1

Mandeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh scored on either side of a Gauthier Boccard's penalty corner strike as India beat world number one Belgium 2-1 on Saturday.

Indian men's hockey team celebrates the first goal against Belgium on Saturday.   -  biswaranjan rout

Indian goalkeepers Krishan Bahadur Pathak and P.R. Sreejesh came up trumps as the men's hockey team beat the world number one Belgium 2-1 in the FIH Pro League match on Saturday. Mandeep Singh scored in the second minute to put India 1-0 up before Gauthier Boccard equalised for the visitor from a penalty corner in the 33rd minute.

Ramandeep Singh proved to be the difference between the sides as his 46th-minute goal from a penalty corner deflection sent the Kalinga Stadium into raptures.

Graham Reid's side began the match in emphatic fashion as Mandeep Singh converted from close range to put India 1-0 up in the 2nd minute. Newcomer Raj Kumar Pal got the ball on the left side of the penalty area and cut a pass to Dilpreet Singh who sent a powerful reverse hit towards the goal which was deflected into the net by Mandeep.

Undeterred by the early goal, Belgium won four penalty corners in a row but Amit Rohidas blocked Alexander Hendrickx thrice while the fourth attempt went wide off the post. The visitor won two more corners in the first quarter but Krishan Pathak made a string of stunning saves to deny the Belgians.

READ | FIH Pro League, India vs Belgium: Ramandeep strike sinks world champion - As it happened

Belgium pinned India back in its own circle for the entirety of the second quarter and won two penalty corners. Sreejesh was the hero during this period as thwarted attempts from Tom Boon, Augustin Meurmans and Simon Gougnard as India held to a slender lead.

The Indian goal was finally beaten soon after the half time as Belgium won a penalty corner in the 33rd minute. Gauthier Boccard made room on his left from a penalty corner variation and smashed a back pass into the roof of the net to pull the European champion level. Indian captain Manpreet Singh found the back of the net from a penalty corner in the 41st minute but video umpire Gareth Greenfield ruled out the goal as the ball was trapped inside the penalty area.

Belgium went close to getting the second goal when Florent van Aubel put Thomas Briels through to the goal but Pathak made a stunning save from point-blank range to save the reverse flick.

India snatched back the lead from a penalty corner in the 47th minute when Harmanpreet Singh's dragflick deflected off Victor Wegnez and fell for Ramandeep Singh who stabbed home from close range. Belgium swamped the Indian half in search of an equaliser and substituted goalkeeper Vicent Vanasch for an extra outfield player but the Indian defence stood firm to notch up a famous win.

The win took India to second the Pro League standings with eight points from three matches, behind Belgium which has 11 points from five games.

India will face Belgium in the second leg of the tie on Sunday beginning at 5 pm.

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