Bhubaneswar, December 6: Host nation India caused a massive upset on the first of two days of quarter-final action at the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday.
Amazing day of Hockey at the Odisha #HWL2017 in Bhubaneswar!— FIH (@FIH_Hockey) December 6, 2017
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More 📸 https://t.co/e50krBMojN@TheHockeyIndia @HockeyAustralia @Kookaburras @AbsolutaMasc @BELRedLions @odisha_tourism @CMO_Odisha @TicketGenieIN pic.twitter.com/s1JTZjr48j
India, who finished fourth in Pool B, claimed a stunning shoot-out victory over Belgium’s Red Lions, a team that came into the contest on the back of three straight victories.
FT! In an intense Quarter Final which swayed this way and that multiple times, India take the game in the penalty shoot-out against Belgium at the Odisha Men’s #HWL2017 Final in Bhubaneswar on 6th December. #JunoonJeetKa #INDvBEL pic.twitter.com/vIo6iegfXw— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 6, 2017
The day’s other winner Australia will face a semi-final meeting against either Germany or Netherlands, two sides that meet in the quarter-finals on Thursday (December 7). India’s semi-final opponents will come from the winner of Thursday’s quarter-final clash between England and Olympic champions Argentina.
The Kalinga Stadium was a cauldron of deafening noise for a belting match between Pool A winners Belgium and host nation India, who finished fourth in Pool B but produced a stunning performance against their higher-ranked opponents. The lively SV Sunil twice came close to opening the scoring for India in the first half, with the Red Lions having a goal ruled out by the video umpire due to a back stick.
Sumit's all-round performance earns him the ONGC Junior Player of the Match award in the all-important Quarter Final against Belgium at the Odisha Men's #HWL2017 in Bhubaneswar on 6th December 2017. #JunoonJeetKa #INDvBEL pic.twitter.com/YQ1K9upR0S— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 6, 2017
One minute into the second half, the mammoth crowd erupted with joy when Gurjant Singh forced home from close range to give India a shock lead against the pre-match favourites, an advantage that was doubled four minutes later thanks to a ferocious penalty corner flick from Harmanpreet Singh.
The Red Lions were stunned, but regained their composure to score twice either side of the third quarter break. Both goals were penalty corners that came from the stick of Loick Luypaert, who took his competition tally to a remarkable eight in four matches.
India hit back almost immediately when Rupinder Pal Singh scored a penalty corner, but a deflected goal from Belgium's Amaury Keusters took the score to 3-3 and forced the match into the most entertaining and dramatic of shoot-outs.
India lead the shoot-out 2-0 after three efforts each, but Belgium forced sudden-death by scoring both of their two remaining efforts while India failed to convert. Harmanpreet Singh scored what proved to be the winner while Arthur van Doren was unable to beat India shot-stopper Akash Chikte, sparking scenes of utter jubilation both in the stands and on the field from the home favourites.
Congratulate #TeamIndia on qualifying for semi-finals on #HWL2017 at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. It’s been a thrilling finish to a very competitive match. Wish the young @thehockeyindia team the best for semi-finals. pic.twitter.com/u13qsaw7b4— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) December 6, 2017
“It was a really exciting game, I’d describe it as nail-biting”, said India’s Rupinder Pal Singh after the match. “The crowd were amazing today, they were helped us play a really good game.”
We caught up with @rupinderbob3 after his sides epic win over @BELRedLions 3-2 in a shootout (FT3-3)! It even went to sudden death at 2-2! Amazing! 🙌🌟@TheHockeyIndia @manpreetpawar07 pic.twitter.com/TVO1eR15BQ— FIH (@FIH_Hockey) December 6, 2017