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Hockey World League: Indian eves ride on Anupa's strike to hold Belgium 1-1

Hockey World League

A 7-0 shellacking can be demoralising for any hockey team, and it must have been no different for the Indian hockey eves when they strode out to face Belgium in their second league match of the Hockey World League semifinals in Rotterdam on Friday.

The Neil Hawgood-coached Indian outfit needed to pick themselves up after their morale-pounding defeat at the hands of New Zealand on Thursday, but it was clear that the Ritu Rani-led girls were feeling the pressure.

The Indians showed a lot of grit in the second half after a sloppy first half performance to hold Belgium to a 1-1 draw.

However, the script did not unfold as India would have liked.

The women in blue – ranked 12th allowed 13th ranked Belgium to build pressure from the starting hooter and the Red Lions were rewarded early when Erica Coppey deflected home in the 5th minute to raise visions of another forgettable day in office for India.

Belgium, who last met India in the 2012 Champions Challenge tournament in Dublin and won 3-2 after trailing 1-2 at half-time, soared in confidence with the opening goal and mounted raids at will.

Belgium forced their first penalty corner in the 10th minute which resulted in a follow-on PC. They scored from that set-piece but the goal was disallowed after the third umpire upheld the India’s call for a video referral and instead awarded another short corner.

The Red slammed that opportunity wide.

India did make a few sallies but play was mostly confined to their half as Belgium look to maintain sustained pressure.

Belgium had a chance to make it 2-0 when they won their fourth short corner in the 26th minute but their injector pushed the ball out of the ‘D’.

They earned another short corner in the 30th minute but Vontro slotted it wide.

India looked good when Vandana Katariya darted down the right flank but a crowded Belgium defence kept her bay. Belgium led 1-0 at half-time.

India showed urgency in the second half and equalized in the 38th minute when Anupa Barla deflected home for her side’s first goal of the tournament.

Indian goalkeeper Savita pulled off a fine save to thwart Belgium from their sixth penalty corner opportunity in the 43rd minute. The short corner was awarded after an Indian player resorted to a wrong tackle in the 25-yard area.

Savita again kept India in the hunt six minutes later when she leaped to her right and deflected an attempt from Anouk Raes.

Anupa Barla looked good in the 57th minute when she essayed a good move but was tripped by the Belgium goalkeeper on the top of the ‘D’.

Belgium kept probing the Indian citadel but were foiled in their efforts.

The Reds earned their seventh short corner with two minutes remaining on the clock. India asked for a referral citing dangerous play but their appeal was rejected.

India thwarted that attempt even as Belgium’s call for referral did not change anything.

It may be worth recalling that the Indian women had earlier given a good account of themselves in the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament held in New Delhi last February. Indian eves thumped Kazakhstan 8-0 in their opening match.

They pulverized Fiji 10-0 in their second tie before accounting for Malaysia 3-0.

India eves lost 1-3 to Japan in penalty shootout after being locked 2-2 in regulation time. They edged out Russia by a solitary goal to wrap up their campaign on a decent note.

India and ninth-ranked Japan qualified from the New Delhi event.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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