The Indian men’s hockey team’s hopes of winning the FIH Pro League title were dashed after a hard-fought 1-2 defeat against the Netherlands in the second match of the two-league tie at Rotterdam on Sunday. India lost 1-4 to the Dutch in a shootout on Saturday when the two sides met 2-2 at the end of the 60-minute rule. The Indians needed a clear victory against the Netherlands to get an outside chance to win the tile, but it did not happen.
The Netherlands won the FIH Pro League Men’s section with 35 points from 14 games, with two games remaining.
Olympic champions Belgium are second with 35 points from 16 matches, while India are third with 30 points from 16 matches.
The Indians started on a strong note, taking the lead within 30 seconds with a brilliant field goal by Abhishek.
Abhishek collected the ball from the right side and pushed the ball in front of the second goalkeeper Martis Weiss of the Netherlands, leaving behind four defenders with excellent stickwork.
The Indians kept the Dutch defense under constant pressure from the beginning and dominated the early part of the exchange.
But the Netherlands made their way into the game in the seventh minute by scoring on a penalty corner from Jeep Johnson.
It was a hockey match between World No. 3 Netherlands and World No. 4 India, in which both the teams were beating each other with sticks.
The Netherlands showed patience in India’s circle and in doing so got another penalty corner in the 11th minute which was stopped by Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
The Dutchman won three more penalty corners but failed to break the Indian defense.
In the 16th minute, India got a PC but Herman Prit Singh was saved by the Dutch custodian.
The hosts soon arranged for another PC, but once again veteran Srijesh came to India’s rescue.
Two minutes after halftime, India held back-to-back penalty corners but the Dutchman defended strongly.
Hockey continued to be attractive in the third quarter, but both teams failed to score until the 45th minute when Jurrett Crown called the board from a set piece to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
With one goal behind, the Indians gave their all in the fourth and final quarter, creating several chances to score in the form of penalty corners but failing to take advantage of the opportunities.
In the 47th minute, Dutch keeper Weiss saved Varun Kumar’s penalty corner.
India had their chances, but Weiss was brilliant in front of the Netherlands goal, which saved many. Four minutes later, India won a penalty corner, but once again lost the opportunity to score the second best goal for the second day in a row.
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