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  Hockey World Cup: Belgium hold India to 2-2 draw
BHUBANESWAR,02 Dec 2018 (Team Orisports)

The first fwo Round-2 pool league matches of the 14th Hockey Men’s World Cup failed to produce decisive result with Belgium forcing hosts India to 2-2 draw and Canada playing 1-1 draw against South Africa in Pool C here at Kalinga Hockey Stadium today.

Belgium (World Rank 3) had the best of the first quarter and got their reward eight minutes in, using a clever video referral to win a penalty corner that was clinically dispatched by Alexander Hendrickx. India had chances either side of the first quarter break, although a moment of inspiration from Tom Boon in the second quarter almost doubled the advantage when his improvised deflection hit the frame of the Indian goal.


Much to the delight of the home crowd, India came out firing in the third quarter, piling pressure on the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists. Eventually the leveller arrived from the penalty spot, with a stroke being awarded after a goal-bound penalty corner effort hit the body of a Belgian player on the goal-line. Harmanpreet Singh proved to be the coolest man in the stadium, soaking up all the tension and channelling it into an effort that was hard and true, wrongfooting Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch to find the bottom left corner.

Kalinga Stadium erupted two minutes into the fourth and final quarter when Simranjeet Singh scored his third goal of the competition from close range, putting India very much in the driving seat for that crucial first place finish in the pool. It proved to be temporary, with Belgium replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player to turn up the heat on the home favourites.

It paid off four minutes from the end when Simon Gougnard slapped home an equaliser after a decisive Belgium move ripped through the Indian defence to complete the scoring. However, the 2-2 draw put India at the top of the pool on goal difference ahead of the Red Lions, with everything to play for going into the final round of matches on December 8.

Earlier in the first match of the day, South Africa (World Rank 15) and Canada (World Rank 11), two teams who were defeated on the opening day of competition, went head-to-head. South Africa dominated the opening period of their match against the Canadians and would have been ahead were it not for wonderful save from shot-stopper and Player of the Match David Carter, who gloved an Austin Smith penalty corner drag-flick onto his own crossbar. The African champions continued their supremacy in the second period but came close to falling behind, with James Kirkpatrick being denied by a good block from Rassie Pieterse.

Canada’s resistance was finally broken near the end of the third period thanks to Nqobile Ntuli, who moved past Carter before crashing a backhand shot into the unguarded net. It was a lead that lasted just two minutes, with Canada captain Scott Tupper firing a penalty stroke past goalkeeper Gowan Jones, who had replaced Pieterse at half time.


Dec 2 (Match No 9, Pool-C):
South Africa (Nqobile Ntuli 43-FC) drew with Canada (Scott Tupper 45-PS) 1-1. PoM: David Carter (Canada).
Dec 2 (Match No 10, Pool-C): Belgium (Alexander Hendrickx 8-PC, Simon Gougnard 56-FG) drew with India (Harmanpreet Singh 39-PS, Simranjeet Singh 47-FG) 2-2. PoM: Varun Kumar (India).
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TOP: India forward Simranjeet Singh celebrates after scoring their second goal against Belgium on Dec 2, 2018.
RIGHT: India defender Varun Kumar receives the Player of the Match award from Asian Heart Institute Managing Director Dr Ramakanta Panda on Dec 2, 2018.


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