Veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh proved to be the savior as the Indian men's hockey team defeated world number one Netherlands 4-2 via a shoot-out in the FIH Pro League in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. At the end of the stipulated 60 minutes, both the teams were tied 2-2, after which Sreejesh made three excellent saves in the shoot-out to give India two bonus points. Netherlands took one point from the match. Captain Harmanpreet Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Shamsher Singh scored goals for world number three India in the shoot-out.
In regulation time, Hardik Singh (13th minute) and Harmanpreet (58th minute) scored for India, while Jip Jansen (30th) and Koen Bijnen scored for the Dutch.
The Netherlands kept the home team's defense under pressure in the first eight minutes of the match and the game was mostly confined to the Indian circle.
But the Indian defense put in a solid performance to weather the early storm.
The Indians failed to maintain possession of the ball initially but grew in confidence as the match progressed.
In the 12th minute, India got consecutive penalty corners but Harmanpreet, in her 200th international match, failed to penetrate the Dutch defense from the set piece.
However, the Indians grew in confidence and took control of the proceedings.
After Netherlands' early dominance, it took a brilliant field effort from Hardik to give India the lead.
Hardik stole the ball from the Indian half and combined with Sukhjeet Singh to score his 10th international goal.
It was a sharp counter-attack with Hardik at the forefront combining with Sukhjeet before firing the ball into the net from an acute angle.
After this, Hardik gave India a penalty corner in the 24th minute, but the opportunity was wasted. A minute later, the Netherlands were awarded a penalty corner but Janssen's effort was unsuccessful.
Just 12 seconds before half-time, the Netherlands equalized from a penalty corner, with Janssen scoring his 52nd career goal with a powerful flick, as both teams shared honors in the first two quarters.
As soon as they started the match, the Dutch were on the attack after the change of ends and were continuously putting pressure on the Indian defence.
His efforts came to fruition nine minutes into the third quarter when he took the lead from a penalty corner.
Koen Bijnen scored from the rebound after Jasper Brinkman's flick was saved by Indian goalkeeper Krishna Bahadur Pathak.
The Netherlands kept up the pressure and earned another penalty corner early in the third quarter but this time the Indians defended strongly.
In the 47th minute, Netherlands got another penalty corner but the Indians defended well.
Trailing by a goal, the Indians played hard in the final 10 minutes and earned two more penalty corners in a row, but wasted both.
The Indians didn't lose heart and went on the offensive and earned another penalty corner just two minutes before the final hooter after a video referral went in and this time, Harmanpreet stepped up and converted to level the scores and take the game into the shootout. Changed the opportunity. Outside.
On Saturday, while India defeated Spain 4-1, Netherlands defeated Ireland 5-1.
India's next match will be against Australia here on 15 February.
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