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FIH Hockey Pro League | Harmanpreet’s error costs India dear against Belgium

Stumbling block: The Indian strikers run into a resolute Belgium defence.

Stumbling block: The Indian strikers run into a resolute Belgium defence.   | Photo Credit: BiswaranjanRout

Loses to the World champion in the second match after winning the first on February 8.

India fought hard but a defensive lapse from Harmanpreet Singh cost it dear as it slumped to its first defeat in the second edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League, losing 2-3 to World champion Belgium here on Sunday.

After defeating World No. 3 the Netherlands in its opening two matches, India beat the top-ranked Belgium in a thrilling match on Saturday to continue its unbeaten run which lifted it to No. 4 in the World rankings.

But the Manpreet Singh-led side could not repeat Saturday’s performance and went down fighting in the second match.

Alexander Hendrickx scored off a penalty corner in the third minute for Belgium, but it was Maxime Plennevaux’s two field goals (17th, 26th) that ensured a win for the visitors.

India’s goals through Vivek Sagar Prasad (15th) and Amit Rohidas (17th).

The win enabled Belgium keep its top spot in the standings with 14 points from six games.

India is placed second with eight points from four matches.

The Red Lions took the lead as early as the third minute when Hendrickx found the target off a penalty corner after the efforts of Sebastien Dockier and Thomas Briels were brilliantly saved by India custodian P.R. Sreejesh.

India drew level eight seconds before the end of the first quarter when Vivek tapped home after Surender Kumar’s fine work from the right flank.

Belgium restored its lead two minutes into the second quarter through Plennevaux, who deflected home a beautiful pass from Simon Gougnard.

But it took India just 30 seconds to level the scores when Rohidas scored off a rebound from a penalty corner.

The Indians matched Belgium in every aspect of the game but a howler from Harmanpreet gave Belgium the lead four minutes before half-time. He was guilty of a giving away a loose ball which was picked up by Nicolas de Kerpel, who passed it on to Plennevaux. The latter made no mistake, scoring his second goal.

Down by a goal, the Indians made an aggressive start after the change of ends, securing a penalty corner soon, but Rohidas’ shot was saved by Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch. After Harmanpreet’s howler, the Indian defence produced a solid performance to thwart Belgium.

In the 44th minute, India earned another penalty corner but it fumbled.

India will play Australia in the third round of matches here on February 21 and 22.

The result:

Belgium 3 (Alexander Hendrickx 3-PC, Maxime Plennevaux 17, 26) bt India 2 (Vivek Sagar Prasad 15, Amit Rohidas 17).

Next assignment:

Feb. 21 & 22: India vs Australia.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:36:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/fih-hockey-pro-league-harmanpreets-error-costs-india-dear-against-belgium/article30777229.ece

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