India Men Beaten 5-2 by Belgium in Hockey S/F, Will Play For Bronze on 5 August
Belgium's Alexander Hendickx scored a hat-trick which helped knock India out of the contest at the Tokyo Olympics.
Indian men's hockey team lose 5-2 against World Champions Belgium in the S/F at Tokyo Olympics.
India will play for Bronze on 5 August (7am IST) against either Australia or Germany.
This was India's first semi-final in the men's hockey competition at the Olympics since 1972.
The last time India won a hockey medal at the Olympics was in 1980 in Moscow when they clinched Gold.
The Indian men’s hockey team’s dream run at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hit a hurdle when they faced world champions Belgium in the semi-final and were beaten 5-2 on Tuesday.
India however is still in contention for a Bronze, a first medal since the 1980 Moscow Games. If India wins the Bronze, it will be their third after 1968 and 1972.
The World Champions were the overwhelming favourites ahead of the contest but India, playing a semi-final for the first time since 1972, produced a spirited display but it was allowing too many short corners that eventually led to defeat.
It was Belgium who drew first blood in as early as the second minute when Loick Fanny Luypaert hammered a PC low in past Sreejesh. But India was up for it and within the next five minutes turned the tables on Belgium.
A fantastic referral from India helped them earn a PC which led to another and Harmanpreet low drive found the back of the goal. A couple of minutes later, a sharp attack down the right reached Mandeep in the middle of the D, who in one swift move turned and with a reverse tomahawk breached the Belgium defence yet again, putting India in a 2-1 lead in the first quarter, which they held on to till the first hooter of the semi-final.
The World champions started off the second quarter with three back to back PC’s, on the first of which Rupinder had walk away for breaking the line before the push in to play had happened. India however, held on with a defender less in the formation. A couple of minutes later, Belgium, who were bossing the game, came back with another attack and another PC, and this time Alexander Hendrickx made it 2-2 with 20 minutes down in the contest.
India held on for the remainder of the half and absorbed the pressure from the waves of Belgian attacks. In the final minute before the break, India won a PC and Harmanpreet drove it wide as the high octane clashed paused at 2-2 for a breather. In the first half, Belgium had seven PCs while India had 4.
In the third quarter, the high tempo petered out in the hot and humid conditions in Tokyo with neither side conceding an inch. And even though there weren’t any goals, Belgium was more dominant and looked more likely to find the breakthrough, as they attacked with intensity. India, who were defending for most of that phase in play, had another PC but it was snubbed out effectively by Belgium, setting it up for a cracking last 15 minutes in the semi-final.
A rash tackle early in the final quarter saw India go down to 10 men as captain Manpreet received a green card. Taking advantage of the numerical superiority, Belgium piled on the pressure, again, and once more it was a PC that Hendrickx converted to give his side the edge in the contest. India, under pressure, were well and truly pegged back in their half.
With their noses out in front, the Belgians went for the kill as a flurry of PCs followed in the next few minutes. With seven and a half minutes to go, the continued pressure resulted in a penalty stroke and the world champions extended their lead further, making 4-2 as Hendrickx completed his hat-trick.
In the final minutes, India pulled off Sreejesh as they looked to mount an improbable comeback but unfortunately conceded a fifth in the final minute.
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