Sports Oranje zest: Netherlands seal title after fighting 2-1 win over India; Men in Blue finish third

Oranje zest: Netherlands seal title after fighting 2-1 win over India; Men in Blue finish third

Rotterdam, June 19

The Netherlands beat the Indian men’s hockey team 2-1 in the second and last match of their FIH Pro League rubber to win the league title here today.

The Indians, who made an electrifying start by scoring in the very first minute of the game, later missed a penalty stroke and a series of penalty corners to lose a closely-contested game.

Overall, the Indians would be happy with their performance in this season — they made several spirited comebacks, achieved many overseas wins and scored 62 goals from 16 matches, with Harmanpreet Singh topping the league scoring charts with 18 goals.

India made a stunning start to the match when, with 30 seconds on the clock, Abhishek, after dribbling through a bunch of defenders, lifted the ball into the circle and put the ball into the goal. The Netherlands looked to strike back hard, putting a lot of pressure on the Indian defence. In the sixth minute, Jip Janssen equalised with a powerful strike off a penalty corner, giving Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh no chance to stop the ball.

With the score reading 1-1, the two teams attacked at every opportunity and Janssen got a chance with another penalty corner, but Sreejesh put his left foot out to push the ball away.

In the second half, Harmanpreet missed the opportunity to put India in the lead off a penalty stroke when Dutch goalkeeper Maurits Visser guessed correctly and made a save, with Harmanpreet’s shot lacking power. It was 1-1 at halftime as India failed to convert several penalty corners as well.

Jorrit Croon gave the Netherlands a decisive 2-1 lead in the 44th minute when he converted a penalty corner, deflecting the ball in after a variation off the PC.

By this time, it was clear that India would be in fray only for the third position in the league as Belgium had a decisive lead against England in another match being played in London.

The final quarter was, again, a story of missed opportunities for India and the Dutchman, who had lost in the quarterfinals of last year’s Tokyo Olympics, regained some pride with the league crown.

Women lose to Argentina

The Indian women’s hockey team squandered a one-goal lead to lose 2-3 to Olympics silver medallist Argentina in the second match of their double-leg tie here today.

Argentina won the FIH Pro League crown, finishing with 42 points from 16 games, 10 clear of second-placed Netherlands, who still have two games remaining. The Indians continued to occupy the third position in the standings in their debut season with 24 points from 12 games. In the first match yesterday, India had dished out a spirited performance to stun Argentina 2-1 in the shootout after a 3-3 stalemate in regulation time.

Salima Tete (22nd minute) and Deep Grace Ekka (47th) scored for India, while Delfina Thome (37th), Eugenia Trinchinetti (40th) and Agustina Gorzelany (42nd) scored for Argentina. — Agencies

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