PR goalkeeper Sreejesh saved a penalty in a delightful deciding shot after making some stunning saves in rule time as the Indian men’s team stunned the Belgian Olympic champions 5-4 in the first leg of the two-foot FIH Pro Hockey League on Saturday. The Indian team trailed 1-3 with just eight minutes left in the match but made it 3-3 to force a penalty shootout.
Sreejesh thwarted the try of Alexander Hendrickx, who took his third PS, when the kick-out was locked 4-4 and Akashdeep Singh found the net to make it 5-4 for the Tokyo Games bronze medalist.
Sreejesh, as usual, performed brilliantly under the crossbar, thwarting several attempts from the hosts throughout the match but his two saves in the quarter -finals proved crucial.
The eventful first quarter ended in a goalless stalemate with Sreehesh doing a great job under the crossbar, making two saves.
It was India who had the first chance to open the scoring but both short corner shots appealed when the home goalkeeper thwarted the attempt with his solid defense.
Akashdeep too fired a shot near the goal post which the next day he would flick into the post.
However, early in the second quarter, India found the net when Abhishek’s shot bounced off the keeper’s foot and Shamsher Singh (18 ‘) knocked the ball high into the net after it came off the post.
Belgium got an equalizer through Cedric Charlier (21 ‘), who parried Nicolas de Kerpel’s pass in quick time. Arthur van Doren, who pushed him towards Kerpel from the left wing.
Both teams got their respective penalty corner shots but didn’t take advantage of it.
The hosts broke the deadlock in the third quarter with Simon Gougnard (36 ‘) making a powerful shot after being fed by Florent van Aubel, who controlled the high ball well to push it towards his team -mate.
Sreejesh saved India from even more embarrassment when he made two heroic saves, deflecting the ball with his stick, stretching fully to his right.
De Kerpel, however, eventually broke the defense with a penalty corner shot to make it 3-1.
India were given a lifeline in the match when Manpreet Singh won a penalty converted by Harmanpreet and two minutes from the hooter, Jarmanpreet Singh found the equalizer through a short corner kick.
India chose the variation because Jugraj let him slip towards Jarmanpreet from behind after pretending a shot, and the latter blasted him into the net.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics covered in this article