India’s quest for an Olympics gold medal in men’s hockey after Moscow 1980 ended after it lost to Belgium 5-2 in the semifinal clash at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.
Belgium will next take on Australia, 5th August at 3:30 PM which beat Germany 3-1, in the final. Meanwhile, India will face Germany for the bronze medal on Thursday 5th August at 7:00 AM (IST)
Alexander Hendrickx took his tournament tally to 14 goals as he struck a hat-trick for world champion and Rio 2016 silver medallist Belgium.
A minute later, Mandeep Singh scored to put India 2-1 ahead. Mandeep cleanly controlled Amit Rohidas’s pass and spun around his marker before scoring with a tomahawk hit.
Rohidas, the busiest man on the pitch, tracked back in time minutes later to intercept a Thomas Briels pass to Cedric Charlier, who was left unmarked in the circle.
India looked good in the scorching conditions before Alexander Hendrickx turned up the heat. He bagged the equaliser in the 19th minute — a goal that came after Belgium dictated play early in the second quarter and won three back-to-back penalty corners. Despite the high stakes, the players did not lose their cool. Charlier and Varun Kumar collided during a tackle, but they shook hands and the play went on.
India saw more of the ball in the opening half (54 percent), had more circle penetrations (12), and did well to restrict the free-scoring Belgians. They took the fight to Belgium by creating multiple scoring opportunities, but as has been the case for large parts of the tournament, they were unable to convert. Neither did they score and nor did they let the opposition score.
However, the script unravelled in an engrossing final quarter of play, fuelled by skipper Manpreet Singh’s green card in the 48th minute. Belgium won three successive penalty corners and Hendrickx came back to haunt the Indian defence as he scored with a drag-flick in the 49th minute. The 27-year-old completed his hat-trick, his third of the competition, four minutes later as he converted a penalty stroke.
With options running out with the clock, the Indian camp decided to gamble, and goalkeeper Sreejesh made way for an outfield player. However, it did not change the course of the game as John-John Dohmen scored in the 60th minute to cap off a thumping win.