India suffered a last-minute heartbreak as Belgium came back from being 3-1 down to defeat them 4-3 with the winner being scored in the dying seconds of the game. Michael Nobbs’ men looked menacing for large periods but complacency came back to haunt them as Belgium recovered immensely, and bagged the championship as well as automatic entry into next year’s Champions Trophy in style.
From the beginning, Belgium were on the backfoot, relying on counter attacks to threaten the Indians but Nobbs’ men were solid at the back too. It took India 23 minutes to open the scoring with Raghunath continuing his great form by notching home a penalty corner flick to give India a 1-0 lead. Belgium then had their own chance of equalizing through a penalty corner but Chettri made a brilliant diving save to keep the score same.
India controlled majority of the game with Shivendra and Sandeep Singh all missing great chances in the first half to increase their lead. However, Belgium stood strong and the score remained at 1-0 to India until half time.
Five minutes into the second half, India increased their lead through star man Sandeep Singh. SV Sunil’s run into the box caused turmoil in the Belgian defence and gave India a penalty corner. The first flick failed and was blocked by a Belgian leg but Sandeep stood strong to smash in the resulting penalty corner and India were 2-0 up at this time.
However, Belgium rose back in the 44th minute with a well taken goal but 10 minutes later, the two-goal margin for India was restored. Shivendra Singh showed great attacking potent by scoring an absolutely brilliant goal to give India a 3-1 lead. It all looked perfect for India and a win seemed likely, considering the way the match was flowing. But many were proven wrong yet again by a Belgian team that does not know the word ‘defeat’.
They restored parity immediately with two goals in two minutes through Boccard (54th minute) and Dekeyser (57th minute) and the Indians were left shell-shocked. That two goals really set the tempo for the final 10 minutes and both sides scrambled to seal the winner. Both India and Belgium has solid chances with Sunil, Yuvraj and Shivendra all hitting the post in successions.
However, the Belgians managed to seal the victory at the death when Tom Boon deflected a pass from Aubel into the goal on the 70th minute to emerge champions and book a spot in next year’s coveted Champions Trophy tournament. Michael Nobbs’ boys were brilliant throughout the tournament and this defeat comes as a real disappointment for a team that showed plenty of attacking capabilities. Probably they will now need to focus on the defensive aspect of their game ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers next year.