BHUBANESWAR: Down in the dumps after back-to-back defeats, India rose like the proverbial phoenix to edge out last edition’s runners-up Netherlands 3-2 in a high-voltage last Pool B match of the 35th Men’s Champions Trophy at Kalinga Stadium Hockey Complex on Tuesday.
SV Sunil, Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh scored for India, while both goals for Netherlands came off the stick of drag-flick expert Mink van der Weerden.
With this win, India finished third in the pool with three points, while eight-time champions Netherlands topped with six, pushing Argentina to second position on goal difference.
India were a transformed lot, charged up and determined. Captain Sardar Singh led from the front and others gave their best. The urgency suggested India were playing the title match, not one in the group stages.
The first quarter witnessed ding-dong battle but no goal. Backed by a 7000-strong vociferous home crowd, India started off at a hot pace, launching attacks in quick intervals. Meeting fire with fire, Netherlands also gave a tough time to the Indian team’s defence.
India earned two penalty-corners in the 24th minute, but failed to find the target. Two minutes later, Akashdeep Singh got a golden opportunity to draw first blood. He failed to beat the last defender on his path and lost possession of the ball.
With two minutes to go for half-time, Sreejesh made a brilliant save, kicking out a sizzling hit. Netherlands got their first penalty-corner a few seconds before the end of the second quarter, but Weerden’s drag-flick went over the post.
Sunil put India ahead, deflecting a Gurjinder Singh hit into the post with swift body turn in the 33rd minute. But the lead did not last long as Weerden converted one of the two penalty-corners Netherland got, three minutes later.
Manpreet restored India’s lead in the 47th minute with a field goal. India scored this goal in their third attempt after hits by Danis Mujtaba and Akashdeep from the top of the circle rebounded off the pads of goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
Drag-flicket Rupinder consolidated the lead in the 49th minute, converting the India’s third penalty-corner. The Dutch refused to give up easily and reduced the margin with another penalty-corner conversion by Weerden in the 58th minute. Manpreet was named Man of the Match.