Hockey hopes end as India loses to Belgium in quarters

India lost to Belgium 1-3 in the quarterfinals of the men's hockey event at the Rio Olympics on Sunday.

Sebastien Dockier of Belgium celebrates after scoring a goal as Indians look shattered during the quarterfinal match in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.   -  Reuters

A lacklustre India squandered a one goal advantage to go down 1-3 to Belgium in the quarterfinals and crashed out of the men's hockey competition of the Rio Olympics, here today.

Eight-time gold medallist India, thus, blew away a great opportunity to create history after a hiatus of 36 years to climb the medal podium.

Belgium, on the other hand, scripted history as it progressed to the semifinals of the Olympics after a gap of 96 years.

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India took the lead through a fine field effort from Akashdeep Singh (15th minute) before Belgium pumped in three field goals from Sebastien Dockier (34th, 45th) and Tom Boon (50th) to dash India's hopes of getting its first medal after the gold in 1980 Moscow Games.

Having topped Pool A, Belgium was the favourite to win the encounter and it played like a champion team dominating the proceedings for most part of the game barring a few minutes in the second quarter after India took the lead late in the first quarter.

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India, on the other hand, looked completely out of sorts as it played catch-up hockey. The forwardline cut a sorry figure as they hardly created any chances which could be gauged from the fact that India failed to earn a single penalty corner in the entire 60 minutes.

The defence too found it tough to keep check of the rampaging Belgium forwardline, who mounted relentless attacks on the Indian goal.

With Belgium strikers on full press, India adopted a defensive approach and relied more on counter attacks.

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Belgium had the first shot at goal in the 13th minute when a try by Dockier, their best player of the day, was saved by Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh.

But India broke the deadlock in the final minute of the first quarter against the run of play through Akashdeep who got a deft deflection to a Manpreet Singh pass inside the circle to go into the break on a high.

Leading 1-0, India made a composed start in the second quarter and controlled the game for a brief period.

In this small passage of time India created a two good scoring chances.

In the 22nd minute, Ramandeep's perfect lob found S.V. Sunil on the left flank but his cross was just out of reach of Nikkin Thimmaiah.

Sunil was again in the thick of action when his perfect cross found an unmarked Akashdeep inside the circle but his reverse hit went just wide.