India tide over a challenging 2-2 against Belgium in the ongoing Men's Hockey World Cup as an action-packed final quarter kept spectators on the edge of their seats here at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday.
In spite of trailing 0-1 at the half-time break, India came out all guns blazing in the third quarter to score the equaliser. Simranjeet Singh, with his third goal of the tournament, gave India the lead in the final quarter. However, Belgium scored the second goal with four minutes left to end the exciting contest.
Defender Arthur Van Doren felt that there were a lot of positives which Belgium can extract from the match. "Belgium needs to thoroughly analyse this game and prepare themselves better for the upcoming matches," he said.
Belgium earned an early lead as Alexander Hendrickx in the eighth minute made a big move as his drag-flick had too much power on it for goalkeeper P R Sreejesh to save the goal. Lalit Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh initiated to attack, but their flair was not enough to slip past a compact Belgian defense. India got their best chance in the dying seconds, but skipper Mandeep Singh shot it wide from close range. Belgium dominated the proceedings in the first 15 minutes and converted their third penalty corner of the match to lead the contest 1-0.
As the second quarter began, Belgium again dominated the proceedings in the quarter but could not score more goals to go into the break with a narrow 1-0 lead. India have failed to penetrate the circle even once in the quarter.
Now in the third quarter, Varun Kumar's attempt earned the host team a penalty stroke and Harmanpreet Singh's faultless shot brought India back on level terms 1-1 before ending the quarter. India not only came out strongly in the third quarter, but they also dominated the play and created more chance than the Belgians.
In the fourth quarter, India took the lead with Simranjeet Singh's deft finish. The attack came from the left flank with Kothajit Singh using his experience to dodge few Belgium defenders to cross the ball across the goal-line and Simranjeet making no mistake to put India ahead. However, in the 56th minute, a heartbreaking goal by Simon Gougnard resulted the match in all squares.
India, with a goal difference of five, will next face Canada, who have -1 goal difference, while Belgium, with a goal difference of one, will play South Africa, who have -5 goal difference, in their final Pool C match on December 8.
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