Great Britain registers a facile victory over Russia
Santiago: India recovered from a shaky start to beat Austria 7-3 for its second consecutive win in the Olympic Games men’s field hockey qualifying tournament here on Sunday.
In the day’s other matches, host Chile bounced back from a 4-3 loss to Austria to beat Mexico 4-0, while Great Britain cruised to a comfortable 8-0 win over Russia.
Rocked by a second-minute goal, India bounced back in splendid fashion with Dilip Tirkey (9th, 23rd), Shivendra Singh (51st, 55th), Ignace Tirkey (42nd), Bharat Chhikara (53rd) and Rajpal Singh (53rd) striking telling blows.
Austria, which went into the lead when Robert Buchta scrambled the ball in from a counter-attack in the second minute, kept India on its toes with two penalty corner conversions by Christian Minar (28th, 59th).
India, after a poor start with its midfield play in tatters, made up for the first-half lapses with splendid attacking hockey in the second-half when it scored five goals in 13 minutes to take the game away from Austria.
The Indians were surprisingly tentative against the European outfit that solely depended on quick counter-attacks which fetched it no fewer than seven penalty corners. But the Austrian penalty corner drill was rather predictable and the Indians were rather fortunate to get away lightly.
For much of the first-half, the Austrians matched their fancied rivals move for move and goal for goal giving the Indians many an anxious moment.
A surprisingly ragged Indian midfield at the start saw Austria scoring in the second minute. A diagonal ball from left to right caught the Indian defence napping and Benjamin Stanzl beat full-back William Xalco on the turn, ran 15 yards before crossing to Buchta who swatted home.
The Indians were quick to recover and forced a penalty corner that Dilip Tirkey converted with a well-angled hit to restore parity.
Gaining in confidence, India stepped up the pressure and received their second penalty corner. Dilip Tirkey was successful with a direct hit and India was 2-1 up.
Thereafter, the Indians forced most of the moves, but further success eluded them as they wasted their third penalty corner with Dilip Tirkey’s shot easily parried.
On the counter-attack, Austria penetrated a slow-moving Indian defence and forced two back-to-back penalty corners. Goalkeeper Baljit Singh blocked the first attempt from Minar, but the Austrian specialist came good with his next try, again a direct hit.
At this stage, drag-flick specialist V. Ramachandra Raghunath came off the bench, but India did not get another penalty corner as the teams went into half-time on level terms.
On resumption, India showed urgency and kept Austria under pressure and took a 3-2 lead in the 42nd minute. Xalco’s long hit into the circle came off the goalkeeper’s pads. Ignace Tirkey gained possession, did a half-turn and let fly a reverse hit to the net.
India then took a stranglehold of the match with a four-goal blitz in as many minutes. Shivendra picked up a waist-high rebound and swatted home for the fourth goal in the 51st, Chhikara made it 5-2 with a reverse hit after Shivendra set him up in the 53rd, before Sardara schemed two goals for Rajpal (6-2) and Shivendra (7-2) to score in the 53rd and 55th minutes, respectively.
With a five-goal cushion, India relaxed for just a moment and Austria in a trice forced its sixth penalty corner that Minar converted in the 59th minute.
Thereafter, the match meandered into an up-and-down affair and the Indians came away with palpable relief. — Agencies