India hammer Belgium, set-up semifinal date with Pakistan
Bhubaneswar: India produced an inspirational performance with a magnificent come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Belgium to set-up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here on Thursday.
It was a fantastic comeback after being down 0-2 within 18th minute courtesy goals from Felix Denayer (12th minute) and Sebastien Dockier (18th).
But the hosts, ranked ninth in the world immediately pulled one back in that very minute through Rupinder Pal Singh (18th).
SK Uthappa (27th) levelled the proceedings while Akashdeep Singh (41st) and Dharamvir Singh (49th) also scored in one of India’s most famous victory in recent time.
The arch-rivals will meet in the second semi-finals on Saturday. World champions Australia will meet Olympic champions Germany in another last-four match.
By virtue of this win, India has also avenged upon their 2-3 defeat against Belgium in this year’s World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands.
India were slow to get off the block as Belgium dominated the first quarter and earned two successive penalty corners inside the first 10 minutes but an alert India custodian PR Sreejesh foiled the second attempt with his out-stretched legs.
Danish Mujtaba missed a golden chance to score for India from the following counter-attack as he hit straight to the Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanash from a Dharamvir Singh pass.
Belgium hit India hard minutes later when Denayer’s drag-flick found the back of the net from their third penalty corner.