The Indian women’s hockey team suffered a 1-2 loss against hosts Belgium in the first match of the two-legged FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/22 at the Sportscentrum Wilrijks Plain here on Saturday.
Captain Barbara Nellen (3′) and Amre Balenghien (35′) were the goal scorers for Belgium, while Lalremsiami (48′) scored the only goal for India.
An aggressive start to the match saw both teams creating chances in the opening minutes, but it was Belgium who got the better as they took the lead in the third minute through captain Nellen Barbara.
The pressure of the host team India With his structured attack and earned two penalty corners in the 5th and 7th respectively, but the Indian defense stood tall to deny him a second goal. Minutes later, India earned the match’s first penalty corner, but Rani’s effort went out of target, thus missing out on bringing up an equalizer in the first quarter.
Trailing by a goal, India started putting pressure on Belgium’s defense and midfield. She also created a chance in the opening minutes but Neha’s pass to Salima Tete went wide inside the circle. The home side responded with a quick counterattack that helped them earn back-to-back penalty corners, but still missed converting their chances.
The Belgians tried to create opportunities, with the possession slightly dominating, but the Indian defense fought hard against everything the Belgian bowled and made sure there were no more goals at the end of the first half.
Belgium made an aggressive start to the third quarter and secured a penalty corner in the 32nd minute of the match, but their effort went past the goal post. In the 35th minute, Andre Balenghien came back over the net to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. The Belgian quickly grabbed a long corner and a pass inside the circle got the final touch from Balenghien.
After making some more penetration inside the Indian circle, Belgium earned another PC but failed to convert it as their effort hit the Belgian attacker’s leg, thus leaving India hit out.
Not giving up easily, the Indian team launched an improvised attack that saw them convert one of their two chances at the start of the final quarter. Young forward Lalremsiami pulled back a goal for India in the 48th minute after Ishka Choudhary hit the target.
He won the ball in the attacking quarter and calmly drove it home. India continued to put pressure on Belgium to level in the final leg of the match, but the home team kept the Indians away and registered a 2-1 win.