Hockey Champions Trophy: Gutsy India settle for maiden silver medal
London, June 18 (IANS) India were pipped by reigning world champions Australia 1-3 via penalty shoot-out to settle for their maiden silver medal in the Hockey Champions Trophy here on Friday.
After the 60 minutes of regulation play remained goalless in the final, Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell denied S.K. Uthappa, S.V. Sunil and Surender Kumar in the penalty shoot-out to drive Australia to their 14th Champions Trophy title -- most by any side.
Harmanpreet Singh was the only scorer for India, while for Australia, Aran Zalewski, Daniel Beale, Simon Orchard succeeded. Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh could only deny Trent Mitton.
However, it was India's best performance in the history of the tournament. India's previous best performance in the Champions Trophy was a bronze medal in 1982.
India, up against the mighty Australians, put up a strong defensive display and showed good counter-attacking skills.
Mandeep Singh created the first potent chance in the ninth minute as his speedy run on the right caught the Australians off-guard. His shot at goalkeeper Andrew Charter was deflected to Uthappa but the latter employed a lethargic back-hand strike to waste it as the Australians were less in numbers in front of the goal.
Australia broke through the Indian defence in the very next minute, earning a penalty corner. But India saw off four back-to-back penalty corners and in their moment of turnover, earned two penalty corners but they did not bear fruit.
Australia mounted the pressure on India but the latter managed to stay strong, thanks to the heroics of central defender V.R. Raghunath. During a penalty corner defence, the ball kissed the legs of Uthappa, India's final defender behind goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, resulting in a penalty stroke in the 18th minute. But Blake Govers hit it wide, much to the relief in the Indian camp.
India too earned two penalty corners before the half-time but Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter denied V.R. Raghunath.
India upped the ante in the final few minutes of the third quarter with Mandeep Singh in the centre of the action. India launched a quick counter-attack after defending a penalty corner but Charter rushed out and halted Nikkin Thimmaiah.
Later, a by-line cross from Mandeep was deflected away by Jeremy Hayward, who then halted Chinglensana Singh's speedy run.
Changed goalkeeper Tyler Lovell then was tested by a reverse-hand strike from Akashdeep Singh, whose direct shot was padded out of danger.
Both the teams tried their best but they failed to break the deadlock, taking the game to the shoot-out, where the Australians won and claimed the title for the seventh time in the last 16 years.
In the bronze-medal match, Marco Miltkau's 40th-minute field goal gave Germany a 1-0 win over hosts Britain. It was the reigning Olympic champions' seventh bronze medal.
The game was fiercely contested, with both sides having far more chances than the score-line would suggest.
Britain will rue their failure to register despite having 20 circle entries and 12 shots on target, six of which came in the first quarter.
The winning goal arrived in the third quarter, with 25-year-old striker Miltkau scoring his fourth goal of the tournament to seal the bronze medal and condemn the home favourites to a fourth place finish.
In the fifth-sixth classification match, Belgium showed great fighting spirit to fight back from 1-3 down to snatch a 4-3 win over South Korea, ensuring that they would not finish the event as the lowest placed team in the final standings.
A second period penalty corner from Simon Gougnard (20th minute) gave Belgium the advantage before South Korean legend Seo Jongho restored parity four minutes later.
A third quarter double from Yang Jihun put Korea into a commanding 3-1 lead, although strikes from Gougnard (49th), Tanguy Cosyns (53rd) and Florent van Aubel (54th) turned the result in favour of the Belgians.