Hockey World Cup 2018, India vs Belgium: Harmanpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh were the scorers for India as they played out a pulsating draw in Bhubaneswar.
- India top Pool C with four points from two matches
- Belgium are second to India with 4 points and inferior goal difference
- India scored their goals in the third and fourth quarter
India vs Belgium was a match of two halves as the first 30 minutes of the match belonged to the team in red while the home team absolutely dominated the next 30 minutes at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Eventually, it turned out to be a 2-2 draw between India and Belgium but it was a display of some of the most exciting and brilliant hockey in the tournament so far.
While India roared at the goals of Harmanpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh, Belgium had Alexander Hendrickx and Simon Gougnard to thank for staying in hunt of a direct quarter-final berth.
This match was touted as one that could potentially decide who would top Pool C and book a direct quarter-final berth and who will have to take the cross-over match path. In the end, both India and Belgium stayed at four points but India still topped the group on the basis of a better goal difference.
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India had scored five past South Africa in their opener while Belgium had scraped through a 2-1 win over Canada in their first match.
Belgium controlled the first half of the match with some organised and smart hockey while India had been quite loose. They were losing possession really quickly and failed to grab their chances.
Early on in the 8th minute, Belgium drew first blood as Alexander Hendrickx scored off a penalty corner. Belgium had been playing a tactically smart game and that finally yielded in them getting an early goal.
Prior to this penalty corner, they had two more opportunities from the same position and they got third-time lucky.
India gave a fine account of themselves after going a goal down by trying to attack more and more but their inability to take it deep and be patient cost them.
India had two big opportunities in the first half through Mandeep Singh and Dilpreet Singh that they failed to capitalise.
Before the end of the first quarter, Mandeep was at the goalmouth with a perfect opportunity to score but he shot it wide. In the second quarter, Dilpreet made a selfish move by deciding to go for the goal himself from an acute angle even though Lalit Upadhyay was positioned far better.
Coach Harendra Singh said at half time, “We [India] are going to wide to attack that’s the problem, we have to take control of the centre” and that is exactly what India did once the second half whistle blew.
India began attacking the Belgian half immensely and pressurised Belgium so much that they began conceding opportunities to India and in the 39th minute, Harmanpreet Singh scored off a penalty stroke to get India back in the match.
There was some inspired play by India and for all the hard work they had done since the start of the second half, they got the goal. Three penalty corners, one penalty stroke and there was a goal finally to show and it was game on from there.
India getting piling more and more pressure on Belgium while Varun Kumar displayed some inspired defending and passing from the back of the Indian half.
In the 47th minute, Kothajit played some brilliant hockey on the baseline to set up Simranjeet’s goal. The youngster showed immense patience to hold his ground, wait for the ball and slotted it home to give India the lead.
Even as India had the upper hand, four minute from time, Belgium equalised through a goal from Simon Gougnard.
Belgium played the whole last part of the match without a goalkeeper in order to push through for a win. However, India failed to capitalise on the missing goalkeeper bit and the match ended in a draw.