HWL: India defeat Belgium 3-2 in thrilling penalty shoot-out, enter semis

While India have played brilliantly in flashes the pool matches of the Hockey World League Final saw their game fall apart at crucial junctures. Manpreet Singh and Co. would be hoping to avoid that in the quarterfinal match against Belgium on We

While India have played brilliantly in flashes the pool matches of the Hockey World League Final saw their game fall apart at crucial junctures. Manpreet Singh and Co. would be hoping to avoid that in the quarterfinal match against Belgium on We

Goalkeeper Akash Chikte saved the day for the hosts as he made four brilliant saves during the shootout to help India win 3-2 after the scoreline read 3-3 at the end of regulation time at Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday. Belgium came into the match with an unbeaten record in the league stages and was billed a top contender for the title but the hosts had other plans.

Jubilant Indian players celebrate with goalkeeper Akash Chikte (yellow jersey) after their win over Belgium in the penalty shoot-out during the Hockey World League quarters tie in Bhubaneswar yesterday.

The home team doubled the lead four minutes later through a cheeky conversion of a penalty corner. They won their first match in the tournament and entered into the semi-finals. SV Sunil, who had a wonderful match even though he missed a couple of sharp chances, said India was thirsting for revenge after the Rio defeat in the quarter-final.

Three second-half goals each by the teams saw the game going into the shootouts. Gurjant Singh who always scored for the country in the crucial time, also kept his reputation by scoring the first goal for India in the 32 minutes. Rupinder Pal Singh then scored the third but Belgium nipped one back. Rupinder Pal Singh scored a penalty corner to give India a 3-2 lead but a deflected goal from Belgium's Amaury Keusters took the score to 3-3 and forced the match into a thrilling shoot-out.

The Belgian, who were unbeaten in the pool stage, had two great chances in the form of two penalty corners at the fag end of the match to score the victor but the Indians defended well to take the game into shoot-out.

England and Germany will meet Argentina and Netherlands respectively in the quarterfinal matches tomorrow.

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