London: India led for most part of the game, but were unable to hold onto their lead in the closing stages, allowing Germany to eke out a 3-3 draw in the opening encounter of the Hero Champions Trophy yesterday.
India's VR Raghunath (left) celebrates with Kothajit Singh after scoring the first goal against Germany in the Champions Trophy at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London yesterday. PIC/AP,PTI
In a match awash with goals at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre VR Raghunath (penalty corner in the sixth), Mandeep Singh (a field goal in the 26th) and Harmanpreet Singh (penalty corner in the 32nd) scored once each for India, while Tom Grambusch converted penalty corners in the 25th and 36th minutes and Jonas Gomoll drilled in a penalty stroke equaliser in the 57th minute for Germany.
India would have enough reason to feel disappointed as they led the favoured Germans from the sixth minute onwards. Only once for less than a minute between 25th and 26th minutes of the game were the teams level before Gomoll’s penalty stroke ensured a final 3-3 tie for the Germans with three minutes on the clock.
India lack in defence
Germany won no less than nine penalty corners, an indication that the Indian defence needs to work on this area and not allow teams to have so many chances. India on the other hand had just four penalty corners.
The Germans got off to a flier with a penalty corner barely into the second minute, but VR Raghunath defended well. Three minutes later, Raghunath, who like PR Sreejesh is returning to the team after being rested for the Azlan Shah tournament, made his presence even more prominent by sweeping the ball to the right past the diving German goalkeeper, Walter Tobias, who stood under the bar instead of the experienced Nicolas Jacobi.
India ended the first quarter with a 1-0 lead.
The second half was as pacy and interesting with SV Sunil finding the target early in the quarter, but after a referral it was found to have touched his feet before the attempt.
The Germans then began their own concerted attacks but Sreejesh stood the test, before he succumbed to the second of twin penalty corners from Tom Grambusch, to make it 1-1. But within minutes, India forged yet again, as Sunil broke away on the right and made his way right to the touchline before pushing it back to a waiting Mandeep Singh, who made it 2-1 with a first-timer.
Barely two minutes into the third quarter, young Harmanpreet Singh scored off India’s third penalty corner to indicate that India need not look only to Raghunath for set pieces. Grambusch was again on target to reduce the margin to 2-3.
With minutes ticking away, a winning start looked imminent for India, before Gomoll ended those hopes. India will play hosts Great Britain in their second match on Saturday.