Bhubaneswar: An inspired India registered their first win over the Netherlands in 18 years when they stunned the World Cup and Olympic silver medallists 3-2 in a high-voltage encounter to finish third in Pool B at the Hero Champions Trophy hockey tournament here yesterday.
India forward SV Sunil celebrates a goal against the Netherlands in the FIH Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar yesterday. Pic/AFP
The win not only broke India's two match losing streak, but also helped the Sardar Singh and Co break their 18 year jinx against the mighty Dutch. India last defeated the Netherlands way back in 1996 in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Barcelona. It was also India's first win over the Netherlands in the Champions Trophy after 1986.
Courtesy today's result, India finished third in Pool B and will take on Belgium in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Despite the loss, the Netherlands topped the pool and will take on Pakistan in the last-eight round. In other quarterfinal encounters, Pool A toppers England will face Olympic champions Germany, who surprisingly finished at the bottom of Pool B, while Argentina will face Australia.
For India S V Sunil (33rd minute), Manpreet Singh (47th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (49th) were the goal-scorers, while the Netherlands¿ both goals were scored by Mink van der Weeden (36th, 58th). Unlike their first two matches, the Indians looked far more coordinated and motivated. It was keenly-contested first two quarters for both teams.
Both India and the Netherlands created chances but what eluded them were goals. India's first scoring chance came in the 10th minute when Akashdeep Singh's feeble deflection from S K Utahappa's build-up was easily kept away by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
The Indians, however, found it hard to create spaces in the midfield because of the Netherlands tight man-to-man marking. In defence, Rupinder Pal Singh looked clueless and was guilty of miss trapping and losing the ball on numerous occasions.