India are making their way to the final 16 in the Men’s Hockey World Cup after the hosts delivered a five-star performance to put five goals past Canada and maintain their unbeaten run in the tournament on Saturday.
India demolished Canada 5-1 in the Kalinga stadium as Lalit scored a brace in the Pool C match to earn a direct quarter-final berth at the Kalinga Stadium.
With this result, India topped their pool with seven points from three matches. Only the group winners get direct entry into the quarter-finals in this edition of the World Cup.
Previously, India met with a 3-3 draw against Belgium, who finished second in the group.
A goal in the very first minute of the match by South Africa was something not many people were expecting but the world number 15 side unsettled the opposition with the initial cracker. A cross from the left wing was quickly grabbed by Nicholas Spooner of South Africa who smashed the ball right into the opposition goal post to give his side a 1-0 lead.
Rattled Belgium made a strong comeback and scored the equaliser in the 13th minute of the match as Alexander Hendrickx converted a penalty corner into a perfectly executed goal right before the end of the first quarter. The Belgian dominance continued on the field as they scored two more goals, one by Simon Gougnard and another one by Alexander Hendrickx, to take a 3-1 lead in the initial minutes of the second quarter.
A poor show by the defenders of South Africa in the match continued to cost their side dearly as Belgium earned yet another penalty corner. Striker Loick Luypaert shoots through the goalkeeper’s legs to make it 4-1 in favour of Belgium at the end of the first half.
Heading towards a disappointing loss, South Africa improved their game in the second half as they seemed more cohesive in their defence against their opponents. Belgium, however, was on fire as they skillfully deceived the South African players to create goal scoring opportunities for them.
All their efforts bear fruit in the 48th minute of the match as Cedric Charlier and Simon Gougnard combined to execute a brilliant close-range shot in the penalty area giving their side a 5-1 lead in the match.
The scoreline remained the same till the final hooter of the match strengthening Belgium’s chances of directly qualifying for the quarter-final round of the World Cup.
In the next Pool C match of the day, India will be fancying their chances of directly cementing a spot in the quarters round but for that they need to beat Canada with a winning margin of at least two goals.
(With ANI Inputs)