Stickin' and winning!

Updated: Feb 09, 2020, 08:19 IST | PTI | Bhubaneswar

Manpreet Singh-led Indian men's hockey team stun world champions Belgium 2-1 in FIH Pro League at Bhubaneswar

Team India celebrate their win over Belgium at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday
Team India celebrate their win over Belgium at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday

Bhubaneswar: The Indian men's hockey team's sensational run of form continued as it stunned world champions Belgium 2-1 to seal its third win on the trot in the FIH Pro League here on Saturday. After defeating World No.3 Netherlands in their opening two matches of the FIH Pro League, India beat World No.1 Belgium in a thrilling match at the Kalinga Stadium here to continue their unbeaten run.

Mandeep Singh scored a field goal in the second minute of the match before Gauthier Boccard equalised for European champions Belgium in the 33rd minute with a powerful drag flick from a penalty corner. Ramandeep Singh scored the decisive goal in the 47th minute via a penalty corner to give World No.4 India a victory in front of a frenzied crowd at the same venue where the home side beat the Dutch twice. With this sensational victory, India consolidated their ranking from No. 5 to No.4 for the first time since the world ranking system was introduced in 2003.

The two sides meet again on Sunday at the same venue. After getting off to a rollicking start in their maiden FIH Hockey Pro League with a 5-2 and 3-1 shoot-out (3-3 in regulation time) win against the Netherlands, India did well to halt Belgium's winning streak in the ongoing FIH Pro League. Coming into this match with identical 4-2 wins against Australia and 6-2 and 3-1 triumphs against New Zealand, Belgium struggled to convert their chances against India.

Despite dominating with ball possession, making as many as 38 circle entries, taking 24 shots on goal and 12 penalty corners, the Belgian unit could not muster much success inside the circle. The Belgians were denied thanks to stand-out performance by Indian goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak who lived up to the billing hooter-to-hooter, backing India's defence by knocking off pretty much every opportunity created by the visiting team strikers.

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