London: World No.4 The Netherlands beat India 3-1 in a high voltage game here at the Hero Hockey World League Semi Final on Tuesday. While Akashdeep Singh (28') was the lone scorer for India, Thierry Brinkman (2'), Sander Baart (12') and Mirco Pruijser (24') scored for The Netherlands.
With the top spot in Pool B at stake, the encounter between India and The Netherlands promised to be feisty and the teams did not disappoint as they kept the crowd entertained hooter-to-hooter with top-quality hockey.
The first 15 minutes saw Indian goalkeeper Akash Chikte put under the pump right from the start with Dutch strikers keeping him busy. Though the young custodian stood up to the challenge with some brave saves, he was taken by surprise when Dutch defender dispossessed Sardar Singh to set up Thierry Brinkman who scored the first goal for The Netherlands in the 2nd minute. Next few minutes saw Indian defence live up to the task of keeping the ever-dangerous Billy Bakker under check. However, in that pursuit, Surender Kumar who did well to block a powerful strike by Bakker unfortunately fouled which resulted in the Dutch winning their first PC.
Sander Baart, in his first PC attempt of the tournament, fired low on the right to double The Netherlands lead to 2-0 in the 12th minute putting India under pressure. With a little over three minutes for the first hooter, a quick-thinking SV Sunil successfully appealed for a PC. However, the opportunity could not be utilised with Harmanpreet Singh’s flick blocked away by the first runner. Chikte once again enthralled Indian supporters with an incredible save to stop a fantastic strike by Bakker in the 14th minute of the match. Seconds before the first hooter, Mink van der Weerden was denied two back-to-back attempts at PC.
With both teams in top gear, the second quarter saw two spectacular goals. First, it was Sander Baart on a counter attack who set up Mirco Pruijser to score The Netherlands third goal of the match in the 24th minute. Four minutes later, Akashdeep Singh who was denied minutes before when he took a reverse hit on goal, brought India back into the game. It was a brilliant pass by SV Sunil well-received by Akashdeep Singh who improvised it with a punch on the ball in between his legs making it one of the best goals of the tournament so far. With India narrow the gap to 1-3, there was nail-biting action in the third quarter.
Though the Dutch dominated with ball possession, Indian defenders were spot on to keep them from making successful penetrations. Meanwhile, Vikas Dahiya who replaced Chikte at half-time impressed when he padded away Robbert Kemperman’s well-struck ball set up by Bakker in the 33rd minute. Despite a few strong attempts on goal, India could not find the gap with the quarter ending goalless for both teams.
In the final 15 minutes, India made brave forays into the striking circle and one such attempt saw India win their second PC of the match when Jorrit Croon miss-timed his tackle against Manpreet Singh resulting his team conceding their second PC. But Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was well-saved by San van der Ven. Another shot on goal was denied by the Dutch when Surender set up Ramandeep Singh for a goal in the 52nd minute. The Dutch earned their fourth PC of the match by Sander Baart’s flick was well-defended by runner Surender Kumar. In the 56th minute, when Harjeet Singh set up Akashdeep for a goal, it was saved by the Dutch keeper but India was awarded PC for dangerous play in the striking circle. But Harmanpreet’s third attempt was padded away by Sam van der Ven ending India's campaign against the Dutch 1-3.
India will play the quarterfinals match on June 22.