Hockey World League Final: New Zealand beat India 3-1

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New Delhi, Jan 11: India suffered their second consecutive loss of the Hockey World League Final after they went down 1-3 to World No 7 New Zealand in a Pool A clash at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Saturday.

Earlier, England surprised reigning Olympic champions and World No.1 Germany 2-1 in the other group clash as Ashley Jackson’s goal settled the matter in the 21st minute after being level at 1-all. England, who beat India 2-0 Friday, currently top the group standings.
Coming back from a humiliating 1-6 loss to Germany Friday, the Black Sticks displayed a thumping performance to easily beat hosts India in front of a 1,000-strong crowd.

New Zealand took off in fantastic fashion stunning India with a first minute goal when an unmarked Shea McAleese put the ball past Indian stopper P.R. Sreejesh. On the back foot already, India tried penetrating the Kiwi striking circle immediately and earned two back-to-back penalty corners in the third minute. But both times the visitors denied India the chance to equalise.

Soon, Mandeep Singh had another chance when he almost reached the New Zealand goal but fell to a tackle and could not convert the chance. The Black Sticks also had a good chance of doubling their lead as a Hugo Inglis strike went just above the goalpost in the 25th minute. Two minutes later New Zealand had their best chance when a Nick Haig shot hit the post but luck was on India’s side this instance and the ball kept out.

Nikkin Thimmaiah almost ran the full distance of the pitch but was unable to convert as he found no support in the Kiwi D. New Zealand earned their first penalty corner in the 33rd minute but India were successful at keeping the ball out and went into the break 0-1 down.
Five minutes into the second half, the visitors doubled the lead as a Phil Burrows free hit was elegantly deflected by Stephen Jenness.

The Indians created more chances with Birendra Lakra hitting one wide of the post. Thimmaiah created a brilliant chance inside the striking circle but wasted too much time in passing the ball by which time the New Zealand defenders were at his heels and cleared the ball with ease.

To add salt to India’s wounds, Jenness scored his second goal of the match in the 50th minute to put the game completely out of India’s reach. New Zealand wasted most of the time left on the clock by passing the ball within themselves and controlling the game. India managed a consolation goal in the dying minutes when Mandeep struck after a deflection from a Kiwi player.

India next face Germany Tuesday while New Zealand play table toppers England. Pool A results: England beat Germany 2-1, New Zealand beat India 3-1. IANS