Indian men’s hockey team recorded its first 2-0 win in the three-match series over Belgium in Antwerp on Thursday (September 26) with Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh taking goals in the second half.
Both the players sounded the board in the 39th and 54th minute respectively to seal the match in the country’s favour.
India took charge of the situation in the first half by tying down Loic van Doren into a save from the first Penalty Corner of the game.
Soon it was India to play defensive and Krishan Pathak, who started the game in the goal was up to the task, pulling off a smart save off a Belgium Penalty Corner to ensure the teams went into the break locked in a stalemate.
India caught momentum in the second quarter and had had a succession of Penalty Corners within the first minute of the period.
The Belgium defense was at hand though denying them an opener. Despite controlling a large amount of possession, India found it difficult to find a breakthrough. The teams went into half-time without troubling the scorers.
India kept the tempo up in the third period and forced van Doren into multiple saves. All the circle entries and creative play finally found it’s reward in the 39th minute as Mandeep scored to give them the lead. It was this narrow lead they carried into the final quarter.
Belgium were forced in the attack in the final quarter and almost immediately tested Sreejesh in goal. He was up to the task pulling off a succession of saves to keep his team in the lead.
India capitalised on Belgium’s attacking necessity to earn a pair of PCs themselves. Van Doren’s heroics prevented a second. In the 54th minute, Akashdeep Singh finished off a slick move to double India’s lead.
It was a lead they held to finish the game and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
The second game will be played on September 28.
(With inputs from agencies)