Hockey World Cup 2018: India marches into quarters with 5-1 win over Canada

Brace from Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and goals from Harmanpreet Singh, Chinglensana and Amit Rohidas saw India book a place in the last eight with a 5-1 thrashing of Canada in the final Pool C match of Hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay scored two of India's four final-quarter goal in a comprehensive victory over Canada.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

What India needed to do to advance to the quarterfinals was dependent on how many Belgium pumped in against South Africa. What it eventually required was just a win. What the host ended up doing was comprehensively dismantle Canada with a 5-1 win in its final Pool C match of the World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

A six-minute period in the final quarter was enough for the host to stamp its authority on the game. In fact, one would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the two-minute break at the end of the third quarter. For 45 minutes, India had been constantly attacking but unable to break past the Canadian defence. Then aerial scoops were mistrapped, the short passes went awry. India kept parking itself in the opposition half, but the forwards just could not find the final pass or shot that would reflect on the scoreboard.

Read: How Harendra Singh is turning 16 individuals into a team

Instead, India kept conceding turnovers and ran the risk of conceding a goal as well, which it did in the 39th minute when Floris van Son shot in over a grounded Sreejesh and an absent defence. That was the equaliser Canada had been looking for after Harmanpreet Singh’s rasping hit in the 11th minute off the second penalty corner had put India ahead.

It was the wake-up call the team needed to finally pull up its socks, with a little help from a screaming Sreejesh and some choice words from coach Harendra Singh. The fourth quarter saw a different India turn up and the way things spiced up and turned around stunned the crowd and the Canadians – for completely contrasting reasons.

India opened the scoring through Harmanpreet Singh's dragflick in the 12th minute.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

 

It began with Chinglensana Singh slotting in a rebound after Kothajit Singh’s shot hit David Carter’s pads in the 46th. A minute later, Lalit Upadhyay stole the ball from Sukhi Panesar on the edge of the circle and shot in on the move. Four minutes later, Amit Rohidas converted another penalty corner. The score was 4-1.

Canada, which had hoped to keep the game tight and pull off an upset, was left clueless. The same Indians who had been unable to get a shot at the goal despite at least six clear chances were putting everything on target.

Its defence crumbling, Canada had no choice but to go for the attack, opening up further gaps at the back and Upadhyay got one more, this time put through by Sumit. It made up for the easy chance he had missed earlier in the game. It also earned India a direct entry into the quarterfinals of the World Cup and a match against the winner of the match between Canada and the second-placed side in Pool D, most likely the Netherlands.

Belgium, meanwhile, managed an identical 5-1 win against South Africa, but the one goal that the latter scored – in 36 seconds, the fastest of the tournament – and one that was disallowed right at the end as the clock had wound down hurt them more. India made sure it wouldn’t matter in the end.

Results: Belgium 5 (Alexander Hendrickx 2, Loick Luypaert, Simon Gougnard, Cedric Charlier) bt South Africa 1 (Nicholas Spooner); India 5 (Lalit Upadhyay 2, Chinglensana Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas) bt Canada 1 (Floris van Son)