Rio Olympics men’s hockey: India lose to Belgium 3-1; out of medal contention

Sreejesh was the lone performer in Rio; pixture credit: mid-day

India, who were playing in the knock outs at the Olympics after 36 years, failed to get their campaign going when they lost to Belgium in the quarter finals 3-1 at the Rio Olympics on Sunday. The fact that India lost the advantage despite drawing the first blood has increased the pain manifold.

Sardar Singh and Co. were placed in group B. They defeated Argentina and gave a tough challenge to European powerhouses Germany and the Netherlands. The Indians, however, were held to a 2-2 draw by Canada that scuppered their chances of finishing third in Pool B. India surpassed expectation but missed out on a securing a semi-final berth.

India’s match was of two halves as India had their chances while Belgium dominated the possession. The second half clearly belonged to Belgium and they took advantage and scored on three occasions.

India were the first to score when Akashdeep Singh deflected a brilliant pass from Manpreet Singh from outside the circle in the first quarter. Just before half time, India conceded a penalty corner but goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made a brilliant save for India. India were ahead and maintained their lead.

Belgium began the second half aggressively and Sebastien Dockier capitalised and by beating two Indian defenders and sent a powerful hit past Sreejesh to equalise.

Dockier scored again in the third quarter with a push into the top corner of Indian goal to give Belgium a decisive lead. India were falling behind and ended the third quarter trailing 2-1.

Tom Boon gave Belgium the third goal and India’s defence was c rumbling. India tried their best but could not score a goal in the fourth quarter.

Going past two defenders, Boon launched a cross shot past Sreejesh and gave his side a two goal lead. India could never threaten Belgium again in the quarter and wasted a couple of chance. Here, it would be unfair not to mention Sreejesh’s valiant efforts under the bar throughout India’s campaign.

India failed to earn a single penalty corner in the match and that broke India’s back as they had relied on penalty corners to score goals in previous matches. Belgium had their chances and even they failed to convert one.

India promised much but failed in the most decisive match of the competition. India had taken the lead but could not sustain it and Belgium had the possession. India were outplayed by a cohesive Belgium unit, which played as a team and executed their game plan very well.

Belgium will take on the winners of Netherlands and Australia in the semi-final.



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