FIH Pro League: Indian women’s hockey team lost 0-5 to Belgium

The Indian women’s hockey team lost 5-0 to hosts Belgium in the second leg of their FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/22 tie at the Sportscentrum Wilrijks Plain on Saturday.

Barbara Nealen (2), Charlotte Engelbert (4), Abi Rae (19), Stephanie Vanden Borey (23) and Ambre Ballenghin (36) scored a goal each for hosts Belgiun.

The match started almost like yesterday, with Belgium’s Barbara Nellon giving the hosts an early lead in the second minute. India were caught off guard in the counterattack, leaving the right flank completely open for Barbara, who comfortably found the back of the net from the far post.

Two minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead through Charlotte Engelbert. Belgium almost scored their third goal in the seventh minute, but the decision was reversed on India’s review as a Belgian foot foul was found before the goal. Belgium put the pressure on India through their aggressive moves, but Savita stood tall and kept the score 2-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The hosts picked up the pace from an aggressive start to the second quarter and made the most of the opening minutes. Young Indian custodian Bichu Devi, who came in as a replacement in this quarter, was called into action from the start of the quarter. During Belgium’s attack, he saved a few rebounds, but Abi Rai managed to convert the third attempt and gave his team a 3–0 lead in the 19th minute.

Belgium added a fourth goal to their tally via Stephanie Vanden Borey, who duly converted a penalty corner in the 23rd minute. The hosts got another penalty corner in the 26th minute, but Bichu Devi made a brilliant save to stop the hosts from scoring. In the closing minutes, India earned their first penalty corner of the match but missed to convert it, thus going 4–0 at the end of the first half.

India started the third quarter cautiously and made a few moves inside their opponent’s half, but Belgium reacted quickly and extended their lead in the 36th minute with a brilliant effort from Amre Balenghinin.

Two minutes later, India found the back of the net through Navneet, but the target was denied as Sharmila did not start the game from the right spot after winning the ball on a foul. An improvised attack saw India earn two penalty corners in the final minutes of the third quarter, but they missed out on converting their chances. While Gurjeet’s first attempt was turned down by the Belgian goalkeeper, Monika missed the target in her second attempt.

The home team earned a penalty corner in the opening minutes of the final quarter, but Monica made a fine save on the right corner. The latter phase of the final quarter saw some end-to-end action, with both teams trying to enter each other’s strike circle, displaying some attacking and defending skills. India earned a penalty corner in the 59th minute as well, but Deep Grace Ekka’s slap shot went wide and missed the score, thus losing 0-5.

The Indian women’s hockey team will next face Argentina on June 18 and 19 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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