Indian men’s hockey team beats Belgium 5-1 in final match

Indian men's hockey team concluded its tour of Belgium with a fifth straight victory after it beat the host 5-1 on Thursday at Antwerp.

India's Simranjeet Singh (Left) and Nilakanta Sharma (Right) celebrate the opening goal against Belgium on Thursday.   -  PTI

Indian men’s hockey team on Thursday produced an attacking masterclass to outclass reigning World and European Champion Belgium 5-1 in the fifth and final match and maintain a hundred per cent record in its Tour of Belgium.

World No 5 India won all five matches during the Tour, beating Belgium 2-0 in the opening match, and registering 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Spain in the next two games, before finishing off its Tour with two more wins (2-1 and 5-1) against the Red Lions.

In the fifth match on Thursday, Simranjeet Singh (7th), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (35th), Vivek Sagar Prasad (36th), Harmanpreet Singh (42nd) and Ramandeep Singh (43rd) -- all scored a goal each to earn a scintillating victory for the Indian team.

Brimming with confidence after an invincible run, India started the match on the front-foot and produced a stunning move in the 7th minute to take the lead through Simranjeet's goal. Belgium did try to force an equaliser, but its penalty corner was saved by Krishan B Pathak in the 9th minute. The second quarter saw World No. 2 Belgium win back-to-back penalty corners in the 16th minute, but  Pathak made sure that the visitor's lead stayed intact.

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India started the third quarter with attacking intent, and was rewarded immediately, with Lalit Kumar Upadhyay bagging his first goal of the match in the 35th minute to double India’s lead. Another attack in the next minute saw youngster Vivek Sagar Prasad also register his name on the scoresheet as he produced a crafty finish to beat the Belgian goalkeeper.

P.R. Sreejesh produced a fine save in the 38th minute to keep out Alexander Hendrickx's dragflick but the the world cup winner made it 3-1 from the retake in the 39th minute. In the 42nd minute, dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner, while experienced forward Ramandeep Singh finished off a great team move in the 43rd minute to make it 5-1 for India.

Playing at home, the World Champion tried to make inroads into the Indian striking circle, but some strong tackling, and interceptions in the last quarter meant that the Indians maintained their 100 per cent record in the five matches.