India's men's hockey team defeated Rio Olympic bronze medalist Germany to clinch the bronze medal at the 2021 Olympics. In a pulsating match that swung from one way to the other, India toppled Germany 5-4 to ensure a podium finish at the Tokyo Games.
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Germany started strong as Timur Oruz scored the opener inside two minutes. Simranjeet Singh helped India equalize two minutes into the second quarter. The Germans did not give up as back-to-back goals from Niklas Wellen and Benedikt Furk put the World No. 4 side 3-1 up.
In the 27th minute, Hardik Singh netted a rebound from the German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler to make the scoreline 3-2. Two minutes later, India's top-scorer at the Tokyo Games, Harmanpreet Singh, sprung into action. Thanks to his excellent drag-flick, India were able to equalize.
At half-time the scoreline read 3-3.
India continued to dominate the match as the team won a penalty stroke a few minutes into the third quarter. Veteran Rupinderpal Singh stepped up and had no problems in beating the German keeper to score India's fourth goal.
The Indian attack did not stop there. In the 34th minute, Gurjant Singh made a delightful run from the right flank to set up Simranjeet Singh and the latter had no problem scoring India's fifth goal.
There was a glimmer of hope for Germany as Lukas Windfeder pulled a goal back for his side. He was successful in converting a penalty corner in the 48th minute.
The Indian defender stood tall but conceded a penalty corner in the dying seconds of the match. PR Sreejesh made a stunning save to deny Germany an equalizer and ensure India's win.
Here is how the Indian players performed in the match.
PR Sreejesh: 10/10
Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made numerous spectacular saves in the first quarter. His saves were the reason why India finished the first quarter with the scoreboard reading 1-1.
PR Sreejesh kept Germany's attack at bay and probably made the biggest save of his career in the dying seconds of the match. With a mere 6 seconds remaining on the clock and the scoreboard reading 5-4 in India's favor, Germany won a penalty corner.
Had the Germans been successful in converting the penalty corner, the match would have been pushed into a penalty shoot-out. However, PR Sreejesh was determined to deliver India's win within the stipulated time. The Indian goalkeeper made a stunning save and foiled Germany's last chance to score an equalizer.
Amit Rohidas: 7/10
India's designated first rusher Amit Rohidas displayed great courage in foiling Germany's penalty corners. He also played his part in carrying the ball out of the Indian defense throughout the match. It was because of his courage that Germany were able to convert just one of the 13 penalty corners they won.
In the absence of Amit Rohidas on the field, it was on Sumit to play the role of first rusher. He was equally valiant in rushing in front of the ball as Germany tried to convert penalty corners into goals.
Rupinder Pal Singh: 8/10
The veteran drag-flicker stepped up to convert a penalty stroke which India won at the start of the second half. Rupinder Pal Singh kept his calm and converted the penalty stroke into a goal. His goal put India into the lead for the first time in the match. It was Rupinder Pal Singh's fourth goal of the Tokyo Olympics. Rupinder Pal Singh was also good at playing pin-point aerials.
Varun Kumar: 6/10
Like Rupinder Pal Singh, Varun Kumar was also good at playing arrivals and controlling the ball on the field. Varun Kumar's accurate passes helped India in controlling the pace of the game.
Vivek Sagar Prasad: 6/10
Vivek Sagar Prasad was solid in his midfield work. His presence in midfield was the reason why India were at par with Germany in terms of possession.
Simranjeet Singh: 9/10
Simranjeet Singh scored India's equalizer shortly after the start of the second quarter. He was bang in the middle of the circle as he received the ball from midfield. Once he had the ball, he unleashed a ferocious tomahawk to beat German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler and score the goal.
The goal uplifted the team's morale. Simranjeet Singh also created a penalty corner chance in the second quarter which led to India's second goal. In the third quarter, Simranjeet Singh received a pass from Gurjant Singh and deflected the ball into the net to score India's 5th and his 2nd goal of the match.
Hardik Singh: 7/10
Hardik Singh was in front of goal once Alexander Stadler saved a dragflick as India tried to convert a penalty corner. Hardik Singh collected the ball on the rebound and slotted the ball into the net to score India's second goal. His goal infused confidence in the team.
Harmanpreet Singh: 8/10
Harmanpreet Singh scored India's third goal. Under pressure, the drag-flicker brought in all his experience and skills to score the goal from a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the second quarter. Thanks to his goal India were able to finish the first-half of the match on level terms with Germany.
Manpreet Singh: 7/10
Indian skipper Manpreet Singh was his usual cool and calm self in midfield. He controlled the ball well. His leadership in the crucial medal match helped India win bronze.
Mandeep Singh: 5/10
Mandeep Singh had a poor day in the office. He had one chance to convert a goal from open play but missed the opportunity. He did not have much to do other than that missed opportunity.
Nilkanta Sharma: 4/10
Nilkanta Sharma was left sleeping as Germany attacked. Germany capitalized on his slow reactions which led to India conceding the ball in the second quarter. Once the Germans had the ball, they slotted their second goal to nose ahead in the match.
Dilpreet Singh: 5/10
Dilpreet Singh received the ball and kept attacking the the German defense. His constant attacks were the reason that Germany felt the pressure right through the course of the match.
Surender Kumar: 5/10
Surender Kumar was neat in his defense but he could have done better by not letting Germany press and attack constantly. He was dispossessed off the ball more than what the Indian team would have liked.
Gurjant Singh: 6/10
Gurjant Singh was part of a strong forward line. It was because of his runs that the German defense did not have much time to breathe in tough conditions.
Shamsher Singh: 5/10
The Indian forward played his part as a rolling substitution to relieve the key forward players. Shamsher's cameo allowed the forward players to come back on the field and attack the German defense again with more ferocity.