Tokyo Hockey Olympics: Over the past decade, Belgium has dominated the sport since 2011 as in a gap of just 10 years, they have won an Olympic medal, World Cup and European Championship.
The Indian side under Manpreet Singh suffered a heartbreaking 5-2 loss to world champion Belgium in a thrilling and brilliant semi-final on Tuesday. The men in blue failed to secure a historic spot for the final and a first Olympic medal since the 1980 Games in Moscow. Both teams played at a breakneck pace but in the end, powerful Belgium emerged victoriously.
India will now play for the bronze medal match against the loser of the second semi-final between Australia and Germany.
India, the winner of 8 Olympic gold medals, failed to avenge their loss at the Rio 2016 Olympics to Belgium. The World Champions then ended India’s campaign by beating them 3-1 in the quarter-finals.
Over the past decade, Belgium has dominated the sport since 2011 as in just 10 years it has won an Olympic medal, a World Cup, and a European Championship.
Belgium started off on a good note. An early goal from Belgium put pressure on India. Loic Luyaert scored a penalty corner in the second minute of play to give his side a 1-0 lead just 70 seconds into the game.
Minutes later, India made an epic comeback to tie the game, with a fierce drag-flick from Captain Harmanpreet Singh to bring India up to level and bring the score to 1-1.
Things changed for India in just two minutes as Mandeep Singh’s stunning right-corner backhand propelled India to a 2-1 lead in just eight minutes of play in the first quarter. India continues to fiercely penetrate the Belgian defense.
Fans witnessed an epic first quarter. The Men in Blue responded with back-to-back goals from captain Harmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh after Belgian Luypaert’s goal in just 70 seconds into play.
In the breathtaking second quarter, Belgium started to put some pressure on India. After missing consecutive penalty corners (PC), tournament top scorer Alexander Hendrickx converted the 5th PC into a goal to tie the score 2-2. At half-time, both teams are stuck at 2-2.
With just 11 minutes left, Hendrickx pushed another unstoppable penalty corner into the India goal.
In the last quarter, India was reduced to ten players after a two-minute green card suspension for Indian captain Manpreet Singh. Taking advantage of this, Belgium immediately headed forward to win a crucial penalty corner.
With just over 7 minutes to go, Hendrickx completed their hat-trick from the penalty spot to give Belgium a two-goal lead and it was over for India. John-John Dohmen passed in an open goal with six seconds left to push his team to a 5-2 lead and keep India at bay for the Olympics final was not wasted.