AT FULL TIME: Netherlands beat India 2-1 to play Australia in the semifinals
India let history slip out of its hands with a heartbreaking quarterfinal defeat against the Netherlands in the men's hockey World Cup, a result which left the young players of the team crying on the pitch. Olympic silver medallist Belgium qualified for the semifinals of the FIH men's hockey World Cup 2018 for the first time ever when they defeated two-time champions Germany 2-1, at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Hockey World Cup 2018 highlights, Quarterfinals 4: India vs Netherlands
A well-oiled Indian unit had raised the hopes of making the semifinals for the first time since 1975 but the Dutch side broke a million hearts by coming from behind to knock out the hosts 2-1 in the last-eight clash.
Young players such as Dilpreet Singh left the pitch with tears in their eyes.
India took the lead in the 12th minute through Akashdeep Singh before Thierry Brinkman drew parity for Netherlands five seconds before the end of the first quarter.
After a hard-fought third quarter, Netherlands scored the winner in the 50th minute when Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty corner.
The defeat ended India's long cherished dream of lifting the trophy only for the second time after its lone triumph in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur.
It was a momentous occasion for India to rewrite history books after 43 years as they had never qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup after 1975.
The Netherlands played like true warriors and didn't give an inch to the Indians after the change of ends.
The Dutch had the first shot at the goal in the 11th minute but Jeroen Hertzberger reverse hit went just wide of the Indian goal.
India's first real scoring opportunity came in the 12th minute when they were awarded a penalty corner and the hosts did not let go the chance as Akashdeep scored from a rebound after Harmanpreet Singh's initial flick was saved by German goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
Kothajit Singh produced a stellar performance for India at the back as he denied the Dutch on a number of occasions with timely interceptions.
But at the stroke of the first quarter, Netherlands drew level when Brinkman got the faintest of deflection to beat Indian custodian PR Sreejesh from a long ball from outside the cirle.
Five minutes from the first half, India came tantalisingly close from restoring their lead by Nilkanata shot wide from a rebound after Akashdeep's deflection was kept away by Blaak in front of the German goal.
Four minutes into the second half, Akshdeep had a golden chance to restore India's lead but his reverse hit from a long ball of Harmanpreet Singh sailed over the Dutch goal.
Soon Netherlands secured two back-to-back penalty corners but the Indians defended stoutly to thwart the danger.
In the 48th minute, Simranjeet Singh's fine stick work in the right flank went in vain as Akashdeep failed to reach his pass with only the Dutch goalie to beat.
The Dutch came out with a plan in the fourth quarter and didn't give India any leeway into their citadel.
The Indians found it difficult to build up attacks as the Dutch concentrated on tight men marking.
Ten minutes from the final hooter Netherlands secured their fourth penalty corner and Van der Weerden found the back of the net past Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who had an ordinary tournament as per his standard.
Desperate for the equaliser, the Indians threw up numbers upfront and it bore fruit when Chinglensana Singh earned their second penalty corner but Dutch goalkeeper Blaak made double save to deny Harmanpreet.
In search of a match-saving goal, India withdraw goalkeeper Sreejesh for an extra player but the move didn't pay any dividend.
Two minutes from time, Netherlands secured another penalty corner but the Indian defence, without a goalkeeper, did well to keep Netherlands at bay.
The hosts failed to get the equaliser as the packed stadium backed the Men in Blue till the very last second only to return home disappointed.
Netherlands will take on two-time defending champion Australia while Belgium will take on England on Saturday.
Hockey World Cup 2018 highlights, Quarterfinals 3: Belgium vs Germany
World no. 3 Belgium scored through Alexander Hendrickx (18th minute) and Tom Boon (50th) to register the come-from-behind win.
World no. 6 Germany's lone goal came from the stick of Dieter Linnekogel in the 14th minute.
Belgium will now fight it out with England on Saturday for a place in the final.
The Red Lions were by far the better side on display considering the amount of scoring chances they got the in the opening two quarters.
Belgium got their first scoring chance in the seventh minute in the form of a penalty corner but they could not capitalise on that.
Germany, however, took the lead against the run of play in the 14th minute when an unmarked Linnekogel scored from top of the circle after receiving a pass from Tom Grambusch.
Stunned by the goal, Belgium went for the offensive and secured three back-to-back penalty corners just at the stroke of first quarter but could convert none.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Belgium secured their fifth penalty corner and Hendrickx scored with a grounded flick to level the scores.
The Red Lions earned two more penalty corners in the second quarter but again faltered as Germany defended in numbers.
Four minutes after the change of ends, Germany came close to restoring their lead but Timm Herzbursch's shot from close range was kept at bay by Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
Belgium secured their eighth penalty corner in the 37th minute but Hendrickx's try was well defended by Tobias Hauke. Minutes later, Belgium earned their ninth penalty corner but once again Hendrickx's effort was kept out of the target by the German defence.
Ten minutes from the final hooter, Belgium got the all-important winner through Boon who scored from a rebound after skipper Thomas Briels' initial try was saved by German keeper Tobias Walter.
Thereafter, the Red Lions went into a defensive mode as they decided to sit back and deny and scoring opportunities to the Germans.
Six minutes from time, Germany took out their goalkeeper for an extra player and tried to attack the Belgium goal in numbers in search of the equaliser but the winners defended well to make their first appearance in the semi-final of the quadrennial event.