India beat Wales, will face New Zealand in ‘cross-over’ to reach quarter-finals

SportsHockeyIndia beat Wales, will face New Zealand in 'cross-over' to reach quarter-finals
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Despite a poor performance, the Indian team beat Wales 4-2 in their last pool match here on Thursday but failed to qualify directly for the quarter-finals of the FIH Hockey World Cup.

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India can still qualify for the last eight but will have to beat New Zealand in their ‘cross-over’ match on Sunday.

India took a 2-0 lead through Shamsher Singh (21st minute) and Akashdeep Singh (32nd minute) but Wales surprised the home team by scoring twice in two minutes.

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Both Wales goals came from penalty corners, with Gareth Furlong (42nd minute) and Jacob Draper (44th minute) netting their side’s 2-2 draw.

Akashdeep saved India with a brilliant field goal in the 45th minute and then skipper Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner in the 59th minute.

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India needed an eight-goal win to qualify directly for the quarterfinals but the team failed to live up to expectations and finished second behind England in Pool D.

India and England both have seven points from three matches with two wins and one draw. But the European team topped Pool D thanks to a better goal difference.

England had earlier defeated Spain 4-0 in their Pool D match. His goal difference plus nine was better than India’s four. When both teams have the same number of points and have won the same number of matches, the ranking is decided by goal difference.

India will take on the third-placed team (New Zealand) in Pool C in their ‘cross-over’ match on Sunday.

England will play the winner of the match between the second-placed team in Pool A and the third-placed team in Pool B on January 25.

The final round matches of Pool A and Pool B will be played in Rourkela on Friday.

India produced their worst performance of the tournament in a packed match played at the Kalinga Stadium amid strong wind and 20 degree Celsius temperature.

India dominated throughout the match but their goal-scoring problems continued for the second match in a row.

The fifth-ranked Indian team earned seven penalty corners and at least six chances to score but their strikers wasted most of the opportunities.

And the 14th-ranked Wales defensive line put up a fine show against India’s relentless onslaught.

Mandeep Singh got his first chance of the match in the first minute but his reverse effort was saved by the Wales goalkeeper.

In the ninth minute, another reverse shot came off the stick of Neelkanth Sharma but was well saved by the Wales defenders.

The Wales players reached the Indian circle in the 13th minute but Rodry Furlong’s cross failed to touch the stick of any player.

Seconds later, Mandeep tried from over Wells’ circle but the goalkeeper again denied India a chance to score in the first quarter.

India earned a penalty corner in the very first minute of the second quarter but skipper Harmanpreet Singh’s weak drag-flick proved no trouble.

Mandeep earned India’s second penalty corner in the seventh minute of the second quarter. Harmanpreet’s drag flick rebounded off a defender but Shamsher’s powerful shot from the top of the circle took the Wales goalkeeper by surprise and India took the lead.

James Carlsen had a good chance at the end of the same quarter but it went wide as India took a 1-0 lead in the first half.

Wales earned their first penalty corner in the second minute of the third quarter but could not convert.

A few minutes later, Akashdeep was on top of Wells’ circle and his sharp shot went past the opponent’s goalkeeper to put India 2–0 up.

Amit Rohidas tried India’s fifth penalty corner but was ineffective in the 11th minute of the third quarter.

Seconds later, Harmanpreet’s flick was brilliantly saved by the Wales keeper.

Soon after, India’s defense was breached for the first time in the tournament when Furlong scored at the end of the third quarter.

Then just a minute later, Wales equalized through Draper. Draper beat Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh to convert his team’s third penalty corner.

Akashdeep brought back the applause from the home crowd when he scored a powerful reverse shot in the first minute of the fourth quarter to put India ahead 3-2.

Two minutes later, Sukhjit Singh could have increased the lead but could not get past the opponent goalkeeper.

Abhishek’s goal is disallowed.

Credit: /

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