Resolute India hold Germany 1-1 in HWL Final
Raipur, Nov 28 (IANS) India put up a resolute performance to hold Olympic champions Germany 1-1 in their second Pool B match of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International Stadium here on Saturday. Germany’s Niklas Wellen’s fifth-minute strike was cancelled out by Akashdeep Singh in the 48th minute as the hosts came back strong after a 0-3 thrashing in the opener against Argentina. It was Germany’s second consecutive draw after the Valentin Altenburg-coached side played a goalless draw on the first day against the European champions the Netherlands. Germany, boosted by the return of captain Moritz Furste who was stretchered off during Friday’s game, started with a strong pace. aided by the power of attacking midfielder Christopher Ruhr and centre-half Tobias Hauke, they controlled the proceedings. Timor Oruz entered the circle from the left, dodging past Rupinderpal Singh and Birendra Lakra before passing in to an unmarked Wellen, who scored an open goal in the fifth minute. The momentum continued as Hauke later fed Oruz for a fierce backhand at goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, who blocked and it fell near Oliver Korn but his shot was wayward. India gathered steam in the latter part of the second quarter as a brilliant build-up play from skipper Sardar Singh saw Akashdeep’s ferocious backhand strike saved with equal brilliance by the visiting goalkeeper Andreas Spack. Later Manpreet also got a good opportunity but wasted it with a lethargic drive that didn’t help Akashdeep, who was lurking in front of the goal post. Trailing 0-1, the Indians seemed more determined after the lemon break as they moved forward in search of the equaliser.
Chinglesana Singh played the ball to the legs of a defender, earning the first penalty corner. Rupinder’s flick was deflected on to the post as the ball fell near Ramandeep, who showed a lot of impatience before the Germans cleared it. Established German defenders Martin Zwicker and Martin Haner were on the ball all the times and used the aerial route to good effect by playing it to Tobias Hauke. Furste, too had a good game playing at the deep. Meanwhile the Germans intended to double their lead as christopher Ruhr and a hard-working Wellen called Sreejesh for a quick save. The crowd had to wait for 48 minutes for the home goal as once again the combination of Manpreet and Akashdeep did wonders for Roelant Oltmans-coached India. Manpreet charged ahead and set it up for Akashdeep, who employed a reverse hand drive for the equaliser. Germany replied with a quick counter-attack and were rewarded with a penalty corner that was saved admirably by Sreejesh. Both the teams did their best but the winner was missing as India, more importantly, avoided the last-gasp danger. India play the Netherlands on Monday, while Germany face Argentina. In other matches of the day, Australia beat Belgium 1-0, while Britain overpowered Canada 3-1 in the Group A matches. A solitary goal from veteran Jamie Dwyer was enough for the reigning world champions Australia to defeat Belgium. The 36-year-old five-time FIH Player of the Year fired home from a tight angle in the 22nd minute to give the Aussies victory. Although Australia also had two strikes overturned, the Belgians gave an excellent showing of themselves and could easily have taken something from the game if they had made the most of their chances. Meanwhile Simon Mantell scored twice as Britain defeated Canada 3-1 in their tournament opener. Mantell needed just two minutes to open his account with a tap-in before Mark Pearson restored parity for Canada with a speculative cross from the right that found the bottom left corner. Second quarter goals from Mantell and Alastair Brogdon gave Britain a 3-1 advantage at half-time, a lead that the dominant Europeans would never relinquish.
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