India's men's hockey team qualified for the quarterfinals of Olympics 2021 after finishing second in Pool A of the group stages. The Manpreet Singh-led side won four and lost one of their five matches to finish behind Australia. India defeated New Zealand, Spain, Argentina and Japan on their way to the quarterfinals. The team's only loss was against Australia.
Here is the summary of the team's performance in the group stage.
New Zealand vs India
New Zealand: 2 India: 3
India began their Olympic campaign on a high as they beat New Zealand in a closely fought contest. Harmanpreet Singh's two goals and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh's heroics were the highlights of the match. Kane Russell scored first for the Blacksticks as he converted a penalty corner. Four minutes later, Rupinder Pal scored India's first goal. India were then propelled to a two-goal lead thanks to Harmanpreet Singh's efforts in the 26th and the 33rd minute. Stephen Jenness scored New Zealand's second goal in the 43rd minute.
India vs Australia
India:1 Australia: 7
India's defense was in tatters as Australia scored seven crushing goals in the encounter. Daniel Beal, Jeremy Hayward, Flynn Ogilvie, Joshua Beltz, Blake Govers and Tim Brand were all on the score sheet as the Indian defense had no answer to the Australian attack. Dilpreet Singh scored India's consolation. It was India's biggest defeat at the Olympics in 128 matches.
India vs Spain
India: 3 Spain: 0
The men-in-blue bounced back from their worst Olympic defeat to beat Spain 3-0. Dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh was the star of the show. Simranjeet Singh scored the opener for India in the 14th minute. Rupinder Pal Singh then sprung into action and scored goals in the 15th and 51st minutes. As India's defense stood strong, Spain's attack failed to produce a goal. The win kept India's quarterfinals hopes alive.
India vs Argentina
India: 3 Argentina:1
India defeated reigning Olympic champions Argentina to qualify for the quarterfinals. The match started on a slow note as the first two quarters went goalless. Varun Kumar produced the first goal in the 43rd minute. Argentina equalized five minutes later as Schuth Casella converted a penalty corner. As the match looked set for a draw, India scored two goals in the dying minutes thanks to Vivek Sagar Prasad and Harmanpreet Singh.
Japan vs India
Japan: 3 India: 5
India closed its group stage matches with a convincing win over hosts Japan. The match was a goal rush as eight goals were scored in total. For India, the goals flowed from the sticks of Harmanpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Shamsher Singh and Nilakanta Sharma. Kota Watanabe, Kenta Tanaka and Kazuma Murata scored for Japan. Japan's three goals would add to the worries of skipper Manpreet Singh and coach Graham Reid as a clean sheet would have made a sweeter end to the group stage.