Hockey: India beat Belgium 3-2; take 1-0 lead



Hockey: India beat Belgium 3-2; take 1-0 lead New Delhi: Sandeep Singh struck twice and custodian Bharat Chetri saved a penalty stroke to steer India to a 3-2 win over hosts Belgium in the second hockey Test in Antwerp.

The win secured India an unassailable 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

The two teams had played a 3-3 draw in the opening Test.

Sandeep (26th and 67th minutes) converted two penalty corners while skipper Rajpal Singh scored a field goal in the 39th minute.

For the hosts the goal scorers were Cedric Charlier (10th min) and Thomas Briels (55th min).

Belgium began aggressively and earned the first of their three penalty corners in the 3rd minute when Gurbaj Singh wrongly tackled Jerome Dekeyser.

Captain Jerome Truyens' dragflick found the hand of Vikas Pillay which resulted in a penalty stroke.

Indian goalkeeper Chetri brought off a splendid save with his stick high on the right from Greg Gucassaoff.

India continued to lose possession with faulty passing and trapping and were unable to mark the Belgium forwards initially.

Belgium scored their first goal when Charlier struck in the 10th minute after receiving a long pass from deep defender Alexandre De Saedeleer.

India were lucky not to concede another goal shortly after as John Verdussen shot wide.

Indian nearly got the equaliser when Rajpal broke through the Belgium defense from the right flank but his cross went abegging as Tushar Khandker was a trifle slow to intercept.

India made it 1-1 in the 33rd minute with a penalty corner conversion by Sandeep in the 33rd minute.

After half time India orchestrated their moves with more flair with Prabodh Tirkey, Gurbaj Singh and Ajitesh Roy engineering good boll rotation.

A solo effort by Rajpal in the 39th minute put India 2-1 ahead. This was a spectacular goal as the Indian captain stole the ball on the center line and worked his way past four defenders before beating the Belgium goalkeeper.

Belgium equalised in the 55th minute as the Indian defense gifted a goal to their rivals with Thomas Briels scoring after being set up by Eliott Van Strydonck.

India however were awarded their fourth penalty corner in the 67th minute when Belgian defender Max Vandersmissen was pulled up for obstruction.

Sandeep Singh made no mistake as he slotted the ball home to give India victory.

PTI