Bhubaneswar: A tense shoot-out following a frantic end to the regular period, saw Indian men come away with a bonus point in their match against the English. A real up and down battle saw the lead change hands thrice and thrice the trailing team equalised, the last of which saw England score from a Penalty Stroke with mere 12 seconds left to play. Much like the game the shoot-out also saw multiple opportunities for both teams to get the win and India finally did, on the 7th shoot-out attempt.
Dutch domination was the name of the game as a heavily one sided game saw the ball hardly go outside the USA half. A goal from Moes and two from Morgenstern gave Netherlands a comfortable 3-0 win, but the American defence gave a good account of themselves holding the Dutch scoreless in the 1st and 4th quarters, with multiple defensive stops against waves and waves of Dutch attacks.
India vs England (men) – Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)
A dominant start to the first quarter from England got them the early lead as India took their time finding their rhythm in the match. The goal came from a penalty corner, scored by Nicholas Bandurak, who is quickly emerging as a star for the English team. But India found their rhythm towards the end of the quarter and a great run into the circle followed by a pass from Shamsher Singh found Abhishek who was quick to get his shot off before the defence could close him down.
The second quarter was much more calculated from both teams as neither wanted to commit too many to the attack. India snatched the lead in the 27th minute as a 6-man struggle in the English circle lead to a push by Shamsher that hit the post and the rebound deflected into the goal off Sanford’s stick. England stuck right back however with another Nicholas Bandurak penalty corner conversion, as teams went into the break on level terms.
The second half saw India impose themselves more into the game as the high temperatures looked to be taking its toll on the English team. India won its first penalty corner deep into the game in the 52nd minute. It was Harmanpreet who had won the penalty corner and he finished it with a perfectly placed flick. With 3 minutes to go, England switched their keeper out for an outfield player and within a few seconds India had won another penalty corner. India missed the golden opportunity to seal the game from that set piece though as they tried a different routine and ended up turning over possession.
England got a penalty stroke with just 12 seconds left as a shot headed for goal hit Sumit on his leg. Sam Ward scored the resulting stroke and the match went into a shoot-out, where both teams scored 2 of their first 5 attempts. India went first in the sudden death and after both teams missed their first attempts, Abhishek scored the second one for India, while Ward missed his from the spot.
Player of the match Harmanpreet asked about his goal said: “Happy with the goal, happy for the team as well. We played a complete game, scoring 2 field goals and one from the penalty corner, which is my job and I was happy I could convert it.”
English captain Thomas Sorsby not too disappointed with the result said: “We had a great start to the game, and our aim for tomorrow will be to stretch that start and maximise it over the full 60 minutes.”
Netherlands vs USA (women) – Wagener Hockey Stadium, Amstelveen (NED)
Right from the start, Netherlands imposed their will on the Americans, who struggled all game to get out of their own half. With a suffocating high press, that the Americans found too difficult to play out of, the Dutch team had a total of 20 shots through the game and 41 circle penetrations, compared to no shots and 1 circle penetration from the Americans.
Each quarter followed a similar pattern as the game stayed concentrated in the American half as their defence tried to fend off the Dutch attackers. After a dominant but goalless first quarter, Netherlands finally found a breakthrough via Moes Freeke in the 18th minute after a rare breakdown by the American defence gave her a lot of space and time to receive the ball in the circle, pick her spot and bury it beyond Kelsey Bing.
Bing had a terrific game and could have been hardly asked for more. She pulled off save after save, but the Dutch attack was relentless and found a second goal in the 25th minute through Fiona Morgenstern on a penalty corner rebound after Bing had pulled off another save.
The second half went much the same way, with the Americans unable to play out from the back and the Dutch trying to switch wings in repeated attempts to score more goals. The third goal finally came from the stick of Morgenstern again, but it was created by a magical run into the circle by captain Matla, who provided the pass that set up the goal.
The Dutch players will have something to work on after their set pieces were sometimes ineffective. They won a total of 9 penalty corners, and converted one of them, which also came off a rebound, after Bing had saved the initial feeble attempt.
For the Americans this was a third consecutive game of resolute defending after their 2 games against Germany last week. While they found no joy in attack, their defensive solidity in the face of non-stop attacks does provide them with positives going forward, given their 15th place world ranking compared to their opponents who are ranked 1st in the world.
American keeper Kelsey Bing who had tremendous game in the goal speaking of positives said: “I saw a marked improvement in the second half, we changed our press and we were able to attack a little bit more and hopefully we can take that into tomorrow.”
Xan de Waard won the player of the match and asked about the final scoreline said: “It’s difficult actually when the opponent sits so deep. You have to try and score against 11 players inside the 25. So sometimes it’s hard and our last pass in the D was a bit lacking and that’s why we didn’t score many goals today.”