Bhubaneswar: India on Sunday beat Netherlands on penalties after a six-goal thriller in which they fought back from going 3-1 down in the first half at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Graham Reid’s side have thus made a flying start to their maiden Pro League campaign with back to back wins against world no. 3 Netherlands in their first fixture in the tournament. Earlier on Saturday, they had beaten the Dutch 5-2.
India are thus on five points after their first two matches this season while the Dutch have one point. India won three points in the first match having won it outright and because the second went into a penalty shoot-out, they got two points as the winners and the Netherlands received one for the draw.
India were wasteful of the chances they got in the first quarter with the Dutch defence looking porous once again. Lalit Upadhyay got two clear chances in the early exchanges and missed both of them. With seven minutes to go in the quarter, India got their first penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh’s shot was just wide of the left post.
Akashdeep Singh then had a shot on target that was turned away by the Dutch goalie in the first minute of the second quarter. Netherlands then started hitting India on the counter whenever the hosts attacked and with six minutes left in the half, Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty corner for the visitors.
This led to a flurry of action in the dying minutes of the half. India equalised in the next minute through Upadhyay and the Dutch restored their lead immediately after that through Jeroen Hertzberger. Bjorn Kellerman then scored another and at half time, the Netherlands were leading India 3-1.
Both sides exchanged blows in what was a goal-less third quarter after that but India found their footing in the fourth.
With 10 minutes to go in the final quarter, Harmanpreet Singh sent a low drag-flick towards goal that the Dutch keeper saved. But Mandeep Singh was alert to the situation and scored on the rebound.
Five minutes later, Rupinder scored from a penalty corner and India levelled the score from 3-1 down, thus sending the match into a penalty shoot-out.
PR Sreejesh denied the Dutch thrice and only Mirco Pruijser managed to find the net for the visitors. For India, Vivek Prasad, Akashdeep Singh and Gurjant Singh scored while Rupinder and Harmanpreet missed.
India’s next Pro League matches are on February 8 and 9 when they host world no. 2 Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium.