India will now face Belgium in the fifth-sixth place play-off match Saturday
Four minutes from time, the technical officials realised that India had 12 players on the field, holding up play for a while. This was only one of the dramatic events in a game that saw India bounce back from a two-goal deficit and stun Olympic champion Germany 5-4 in the fifth-eighth place classification match at the Hero Hockey World League Final on Friday.
India’s first win over the top-ranked side in five years was also its first in an FIH-ranked event in a decade, the last one coming at the 2004 Champions Trophy.
On Friday, Germany was keen to get off the mark and did so with an all-out attack. Captain Oliver Korn deflected the ball into the net in the 4th minute. Two minutes later, Thilo Stralkowski doubled the lead off a penalty corner.
In contrast, the Indians slowly pushed their way into the game, something the Germans traditionally do. There were no signs of desperation despite trailing 2-0 as India stuck to a plan.
In the 18th minute defender Rupinderpal Singh — the standout performer of the day — took the ball all the way from the Indian half, racing past the entire German midfield, before putting through an unmarked Mandeep Singh. The latter made no mistake. Benjamin Wess got Germany’s third goal to restore the lead going into the break.
The second half, however, was dominated by India. In the 39th minute when Raghunath sold a dummy and Rupinderpal converted the team’s first penalty corner.
India slammed in two more goals, both from Mandeep, to go ahead for the first time in the match. In between, Affan Yousuf’s strike came off the crossbar, while Dharamvir Singh shot just wide. The Indians were all over the struggling Germans.
A counterattack in the 55th minute earned Germany its third penalty corner and the equaliser.
The match was heading to a tie-break before Rupinder converted India’s second penalty corner in the final seconds for the winner.
India will next play Belgium for fifth place. The latter beat Argentina 4-3 on penalties after being tied 1-1 in regulation time.
It’s Netherlands vs New Zealand
The Netherlands inflicted a 4-3 defeat on Australia in the semifinals. The Netherlands will play New Zealand in the title clash after the latter edged past England in sudden death in the other semifinal.
It was a close game with Australia fighting back from being two goals down in the first half to level scores. It went ahead when Kieran Govers slammed home a penalty corner in the 55th minute. Jeroen Hertzberger and Mink van der Weeden scored for Netherlands twice in four minutes to ensure the Dutch victory.
Phil Burrows put New Zealand in the final when he successfully converted a penalty in the sudden-death after the teams were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation time.
Semifinals: New Zealand 3 (Marcus Child, Stephen Jenness, Hugo Inglis) bt England 3 (Harry Martin, Mark Gleghorne, Ashley Jackson) via tie-break; The Netherlands 4 (Mink van der Weeden 2, Jeroen Hertzberger, ConstatijnJonker) bt Australia 3 (Kieran Govers 2, Russell Ford).
5-8 place play-offs: India 5 (Mandeep Singh 3, Rupinderpal Singh 2) bt Germany 4 (Oliver Korn, Thilo Stralkowski, Benjamin Wess, Martin Haner); Belgium 1 (og) bt Argentina 1 (Matias Rey) via tie-break.