The Indian men’s hockey team received a 2-0 defeat from Belgium in the second match at the Four Nations Invitational Tournament at the Blake Park on Thursday.
Goals by Sebastien Dockier (8′) and Victor Wegnez (34′) ensured Belgium stayed on top of the game.
Their first big attempt came in the 4th minute when Belgian forward swiftly smashed a reverse hit to the post but India’s No.1 goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who is making a comeback from long injury haul, made an impressive save.
Four minutes later, a circle penetration by Belgium saw Sebastien Dockier demonstrate a classic reverse hit to put the ball into the post leaving little chance for Sreejesh to save.
The 1-0 lead in the 8th minute put India on the backfoot.
In the 12th minute, however, India found a golden opportunity to equalise when forward Ramandeep Singh won the team the first PC of the match but the chance went begging, as the ball could not be stopped at the top of the D.
Seven minutes into the second quarter, India’s moment to score was created by colts Armaan, Vivek Prasad and Mandeep who worked in tandem in front of the post forcing Belgian defenders to make an error.
The attempt resulted in the second PC of the match for India but Harmanpreet Singh’s dragflick was defended by Belgium’s first runner.
Minutes later, forward Ramandeep Singh made another foray into the Belgium circle, brimming hope of a conversion, but his nudge was high up, though Mandeep got a stick on it, the ball bounced off the crossbar.
Belgium continued to lead 1-0 as the teams went into the half-time.
A strong circle penetration in the opening minute of the third quarter saw India win their third PC of the match but Varun Kumar’s drag flick was deflected by Belgian defender denying India an equaliser.
Only minutes later, an error by Indian defenders was capitalised by Belgian Victor Wegnez who found the gap to put the ball into India’s post taking his team’s lead to a comfortable 2-0 in the 34th minute.
India later won their fourth PC of the match when Ramandeep’s swift run-in through the midfield towards the striking circle forced Belgian defenders to foul.
A nice top of the circle variation though fetched no result as Belgians seemed well-prepared for it and denied India a goal with good defence.
India will now take on New Zealand in their third match on January 20.