India thrash Italy 8-1in Olympic qualifier

Sandeep says India should be wary of future opponents after beating Italy 8-1

Powered by a hat-trick from Sandeep Singh, India thrashed Italy 8-1 in their second match in the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Hockey Tournament here yesterday. India now move to the top of the table with six points from two games. Against the Italians, the only significant feature in the match was the change in momentum between both the halves.

Hat-trick hero: India's Sandeep Singh hits a shot during their London
Olympic hockey qualifier against Italy in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/AFP

India went all out in the first half getting six goals while in the second half, they only registered two as the Indian players were told to take it easy. The Indian midfield, rampant and dominating in the first half was content to hold and play parallel on the flanks.

But the day belonged to Sandeep Singh, the master of the penalty corner conversion. Thrice, he blew away the Italian defence with his powerful flicks. His first coming in the third minute cut through the defence and flew into the top corner of the net.

After Raghunath had converted the second penalty corner for a 2-0 lead, the Italians stunned India with a goal of the only penalty corner they won in the match. Alessandro Nanni took advantage of a skirmish to shoot in to cut the scores to 1-2. Italy did have some play in the match but the goal was their only moment of domination.

Sandeep scored two more in the 21st and 24th minute to complete his hat-trick and have India lead 4-1. SV Sunil and Baljit Singh Chandi made it 6-1 at the break. India scored twice in the second half; Sunil scoring off a lovely backward flick with his back to the Italian goal while Shivendra Singh deflected in another for the eighth goal. Both the goals were off crosses by Sandeep Singh who had a fantastic day in the field.

Indian coach Michael Nobbs admitted that they cut the pace in the second half even though he did say that the Italians covered the zones much better after the break. "We did a few experimentations in field play so that was the reason why we didn't go all out again and break the shackles," said Nobbs.

Sardara Singh, captaining the side today in the absence of Bharat Chhetri who had been rested, said, "The team is all geared up for the tough matches ahead." The Indian midfielder said the team was happy that they were scoring off penalty corners and field goals too.

Man of the match, Sandeep was happy with his hat-trick but did say that he would want to score off every penalty corner that he gets. "There is a momentum now with the team but we need to be careful in the rest of the matches as the teams are tough."

Indian eves win
Earlier in the day, the Indian women's team registered their first win of the tournament beating Canada 4-1. In the men's section, Poland stunned Canada 3-2.

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