BHUBANESWAR: India thrashed Canada 5-1 to directly qualify for the hockey World Cup quarter-finals at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday.
India’s Lalit Upadhyay scored a brace while Harmanpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh and Amit Rohidas struck one goal apiece.
The hosts took lead through Harmanpreet Singh who scored in the 12th minute on a penalty corner. But after the opening goal, the second quarter went goalless as both teams failed to breach opposition’s defence.
In the third quarter, Floris van Son equalised for Canada. In the final quarter, India smashed four goals in quick succession to completely take the game away from Canada.
India scored four goals in the fourth quarter through Chinglensana Singh (46th minute), Lalit Upadhyay (47th, 57th) and Amit Rohidas (51st).
By virtue of this win, India finished on top of pool ‘C’ with seven points ahead of world no.3 Belgium on account of better goal difference.
Earlier on Saturday, Belgium, also on seven points, finished second ahead of third-placed Canada after thrashing South Africa 5-1 in the other pool ‘C’ game.
South Africa crashed out of the tournament while Belgium and Canada will play in the cross-overs for a place in the last-eight round. Canada too overcame South Africa by virtue of a better goal difference. Both the teams finished their pool engagements with one point apiece.India will play their quarter-final on Dec 13.
Earlier in the day, Olympic silver medallists Belgium outclassed South Africa 5-1. Alexander Hendrickx (14th, 22nd minutes) scored twice while Simon Gougnard (18th), Loick Luypaert (30th) and Cedric Charlier (48th) were the other goal-scorers for Belgium.
The match between India and Canada was touted to be a battle between attack and defence and it panned out exactly the same as the hosts attacked in numbers from the onset to create quite a few scoring chances but could not score. India’s first scoring chance came in the ninth minute when skipper Manpreet Singh’s cross from the left flank was met by Dilpreet Singh in the near post but the Canadian goalkeeper Antoni Kindler thwarted the danger. In the next minute, India got their first penalty corner but Canada defended stoutly. Mandeep Singh was then denied by a good reflex save by the keeper.
Kindler came to his side’s rescue twice in the second quarter to keep the scoreline under check. First Kindler saved Sumit’s reverse shot from top of the box in the 22nd minute and then kept away Akashdeep Singh’s attempt after he was set up by Simranjeet Singh’s burst from 25 yards.
The script, however, changed a little bit after the change of ends with Canada slowly clawing back into the match with some impressive counter-attacks before a flurry of goals in the final quarter handed India a massive victory.
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018