India draws 1-1 with Belgium in Champions Trophy

India conceded a late goal to settle for a 1-1 draw with Belgium in its penultimate round robin match of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament.

India settled for a draw against Belgium but still has a chance to make it to the finals.   -  Twitter@HockeyIndia

Wilting under relentless pressure in the final quarter, India conceded a late goal to settle for a 1-1 draw with Belgium in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here on Thursday.

India scored an early goal through a penalty corner conversion by Harmanpreet Singh (10th minute) and managed to hold to the lead till the 59th minute before Loick Luypaert dashed all hopes by converting their first of the 11 penalty corners.

With seven points from four games, India is still in with a chance of progressing to Sunday’s final. It takes on hosts Netherlands in its last round robin match on Saturday.

Top two teams from the round robin stage will progress to the summit clash.

The Indians had earlier defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 4-0 and stunned Olympic champions Argentina 2-1 before slumping to a 2-3 defeat at the hands of defending champion Australia.

Just like Belgium, India too was awful with penalty corner conversions as it made use of just one of the six that came its way.

India goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh was outstanding under the post and made numerous brilliant saves to keep Belgium at bay, including a third-minute attempt of Luypaert from its first penalty corner.

India slowly and steadily got off the blocks and Mandeep Singh came close to breaking the deadlock but his shot hit the post in the eighth minute.

India earned two back-to-back penalty corners in the 10th minute, the second of which was converted by Harmanpreet. In the 25th minute S.V. Sunil messed up a great chance after receiving an inch-perfect through pass from Sardar Singh.

Towards the end of second quarter India secured two more penalty corners but failed to execute them. After the change of ends, Sreejesh made a brilliant diving save to deny Tom Boon from a set piece.

In the 43rd minute, Mandeep Singh scored for India but the goal was disallowed for obstruction inside the ‘D’

The Belgians came out with all guns blazing in the final quarter and exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian citadel but Sreejesh stood like a rock to deny them. But Sreejesh was finally beaten by Luypaert in the 59th minute from a penalty corner much to the delight of Belgium.

The Red Lions had a golden chance to seal a win when it secured its 11th penalty corner just 32 seconds from the hooter but failed to execute the opportunity.

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