New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) India came back from a two-goal deficit to stun reigning Olympic champions and World No.1 Germany 5-4 in a 5-8 position classification match of the Hockey World League Final at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Friday.
Trailing 1-3 at halftime, man of the match Mandeep Singh scored a hat-trick while Rupinder Singh scored a brace, including a last minute drag-flick, earning the hosts their first victory of the tournament.
India will now take on Belgium for the 5-6 position match while Germany will play Argentina for 7-8 positions.
Germany came out all guns blazing and silenced the crowd with a two goal lead at the start.
Skipper Oliver Korn scored (4th minute) when he found an empty Indian striking circle, going past goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh. Thilo Stralkowski made it 2-0 with a penalty corner conversion two minutes later.
India had their first chance when forward Yuvraj Walmiki found the ball in a clear German defence but pushed it inches wide.
India slowly gained confidence and started penetrating the German defence.
India got off the mark when a V.R. Raghunath cross found Mandeep, who hit from a difficult angle but was successful as the ball hit the post and went in.
Germany had another chance (19th) when they earned their second penalty corner. But a courageous Rupinder ran straight at the ball and put India out of danger by clearing it.
Skipper Sardar Singh showed glimpses of his skills, duly performing his role of a playmaker.
Germany went into the break with a 3-1 lead when a cross from Florian Fuchs was scored by Benjamin Wess (27th).
India did not waste time in the second period, scoring two back-to-back goals.
A deceptive penalty corner was converted by Rupinder (39th) followed by Sunil’s cross which was pushed in by Mandeep to make it 3-3 on the board.
India started pushing Germany back and started playing in the visitors’ half. But on a counter-attack, Germany were given a penalty stroke (49th). Tobias Hauke hit the ball wide, letting India breath easy.
Four minutes later defender Raghunath passed the ball again to Mandeep in an open German striking area and the latter deflected the ball in to score his hat-trick and put India (4-3) ahead for first time.
Germany equalised in the 55th minute when Martin Haner converted a penalty corner.
Both sides kept attacking. A final try in the last minute helped India earn a penalty corner. Rupinder succeeded in scoring his second goal when he slid the ball past Jessulat.
In the other 5-8 playoff, Belgium beat Argentina 3-1 in a penalty shootout after the regulation time score read 1-1.