After 7-1 thumping against Aussies, India beat Spain 3-0 in Olympic men's hockey

India produced a spirited performance against world No.9 Spain and scored through Simranjeet Singh (14th minute) and Rupinder Pal Singh (15th and 51st) to record a comfortable win.

Published: 27th July 2021 08:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th July 2021 10:34 AM   |  A+A-

India's Rupinder Pal Singh (3) celebrates after scoring against Spain during a Men's field hockey match at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

TOKYO: There is something soothing about a 3-0 victory. It suggests a no-frills, professional performance. An assured win with a clean-sheet to boot.

For those who did watch India vs Spain early on Tuesday, the only thing reassuring was the scoreline. 3-0. Most of the 60 minutes were the opposite of reassuring.

One could argue that Manpreet Singh & Co. were actually lucky to walk away with the points. 
Spain dominated most of the important underlying metrics — shots (16 to 10), corners (7 to four), circle penetrations (17 to 14) — as well as shading possession (52 to 48). 

India did well to score twice in the first quarter as they sho­wed no hangover from the 1-7 loss to Australia a couple of nights ago.

A long diagonal found its way to Simranjeet Singh and he showed composure to finish from close range with a minute for the first stanza to finish.

A minute, three penalty corners and one penalty stroke later, Rupinder Pal Singh made it 2-0. 

As the sides went in for the first break, it looked like they had the match in control and could think about racking up the goals to improve their go­al difference. What foll­­o­wed, though, was a 101 on how not to play the sport. 

Spain, a highly technical side having their fair sh­a­re of dribblers, grew into the ga­me. India stood off them. Pr­e­tty soon they lost control of the game.

If the first 15 was a nice relaxing drive on the highway, the next 30 or so minutes was like navigating through rush hour traffic.

On another day, Spain could easily have sounded the board with at least a couple of their efforts.

Custodian PR Sreejesh too played a part in successfully diverting all six goal-bound efforts in this 30-minute period. 

Just to ram home a disjointed performance, India didn’t look settled even after Rupinder’s second, a fine penalty corner, in the 51st minute. They conceded several penalty corners after that but Spain’s set-piece arrangements let them down repeatedly. 

After the game, coach Graham Reid was pointed in his assessment. “A lot of things to work on from an improvement perspective,” the Australian said.

“The fact that we gave too many corners, that’s always a concern when that happens. But the team did really well in terms of defending PCs. The first quarter was played very well, we could move the ball really well and it was exactly what we planned to do. I think 2-0 is the worse score in hockey because after that we were relaxed and we struggled a bit in the second and third quarter to get back into the game.”

They are currently second, two points and as many places ahead of their next opponents, Argentina (Thursday).

The Latin Americans may be the Olympic champions but they are a shadow of that 2016 side. India should really beat them.

If they do beat them, they will likely finish second in the group and advance to the quarterfinals.  

For the time being, they cannot afford to look that far forward. Against Argentina, they will look to get back to the basics.



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