FIH Men Hockey World Cup 2018 India Vs Belgium match highlights:
- India and Belgium paid out a 2-2 draw in their second match of Pool B
- Harmanpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh scored for India, while Alexander Hendrickx and Simon Gougnard got the goals for Belgium
- India is on top of Pool B with a win in their last match seeing them qualify directly for the quarterfinals
Going ahead with FIH Men Hockey World Cup 2018 India Vs Belgium, the Kalinga Stadium witnessed a stellar encounter on Sunday between India and Belgium. It saw the home side adopt quickly to plan B as they changed tactics quickly to counter Belgium’s initial onslaught. It was a Pool B clash that saw both sides dominate either side of the half, with Belgium going on to take a 1-0 lead before India hit back to go ahead 2-1. Belgium’s resilience and grit paid off for them with the other side finding a late equalizer in the dying seconds of the game to keep their hopes alive of qualification to the last eight of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup.
After having comprehensively routed South Africa 5-0 in their opener, India knew they faced their first real challenge of the world cup when Belgium came calling. They were put to the sword by a side that came racing out of the blocks when the opening bell was sounded.
Belgium’s fast game-play and attacking style lead by the offensive quartet of Thomas Briels, Tom Boon, Cedric Charlier, and Florent van Aubel pushed India right back into their half for the entirety of the first quarter. Unrelenting and unforgiving with their attacks, Belgium made all the early moves in the first five minutes with the Indian team not even able to cross into their half.
Pressing high and with intent, Belgium’s constant pressure saw them snatch possession away from the host’s in the blink of an eye. This paired with their passing that dissected the Indian back four with absolute precision meant it was only a matter of time before Alexander Hendricks’s eighth-minute drag-flick gave Belgium the lead.
How India didn’t concede again in the first half is something that is still unanswered being worked overtime, India’s back four were stretched continuously and went into the break thanking their lucky stars for just being a goal behind.
However, the Indians changed the complexion of the game come in the second half with an alteration in strategy, which was refreshing to see. With the Belgians’ organized to the fore and maintaining their shape with immense concentration to block everything that was being played along the ground, India decided to go aerial and vertical. Resorting to a secondary style, showed India’s strength over the long balls as well, something that puts them in good stead as they look to bring back a first world title in 43 years.
This strategy led to both of India’s goals with, Lalit Upadhyay latching on to one such aerial ball to win a penalty corner from which Varun Kumar’s drag-flick hit the foot of Arthur de Sloover. Harmanpreet converted from the spot to bring India back into the game.
With momentum on their side, India pressed further with defenders Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar playing long balls to find the attacking-midfielders and bypass Belgium’s inner circle. Their good work paid off with Simranjeet Singh putting them in the lead in the 47th minute.
Surprisingly though, India decided to sit back after taking the lead with Belgium making the most of India’s unwillingness to attack. They removed their goal-keeper in the 56th minute as they looked to take away something from the match and went onto getting the leveler just 10 seconds later with Simon Gougnard finding the back of the net to end the match 2-2, a fair result on an amazing night of hockey.
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