Despite coming up with a much-improved show on Sunday, India men’s hockey team lost 2-3 to world champions Belgium in the second match of the two-leg FIH Pro League 2020. A defensive blunder by Harmanpreet Singh in the second quarter proved to be the difference between the two teams in the end. Both India and Belgium created half-a-dozen chances in the second half but none could find the back of the net.
India are now placed second in the standings of the second edition of the FIH Pro League with eight points from four games, while Belgium are at the top with 14 points from six games.
On Sunday, India looked a transformed unit with more circle penetrations and more shot on goals than the world champs. For India, Amit Rohidas (17th) and Vivek Prasad (15th) scored the goals.
Alexander Hendrickx, Nicolas de Kerpel and Maxime Plennevaux were the scorers for Belgium. The Red Lions took the lead as early as in the third minute when Hendrickx scored from a penalty corner after the initial two efforts of Sebastien Dockier and Thomas Briels were brilliantly saved by India custodian PR Sreejesh.
India drew level eight seconds before the end of the first quarter when Vivek tapped in after Surender Kumar’s fine work from the right flank.
Belgium restored their lead two minutes into the second quarter through Plennevaux, who deflected in a beautiful pass from Simon Gougnard.
The Kalinga Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Belgium as it is the same venue where they lifted their maiden World Cup title in 2018.
Earlier, India had defeated Belgium 2-1 in the first leg at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday.
Under Graham Reid, India have taken some massive strides at the international stage. In the opening match of the two-leg tie against a strong Netherlands side, world no. 5 India registered a comprehensive 5-2 win.
They followed it up with another win over Dutchmen 3-1 via shootout after both the teams were locked 3-3 at the end of regulation time in the second match.