(Sports news) As the FIH Pro League restarted in London, Craig Fulton, the new men’s coach of India, did not have a successful start. His top-of-the-table team lost to Belgium 2-1, with the Olympic champions scoring the game-winning goal at the very last second. The hosts Great Britain earned an “ugly win” against China in the women’s match on the first day of the mini-tournament, winning 1-0.
Belgian men defeat Indian men 2-1
The biggest opportunity India had in the scoreless first period came from Hardik Singh, whose drag flick from the top of the circle was superbly saved by a diving Loic van Doren. In the second period, the revamped Belgian team was more composed and scored thanks to an early penalty corner. The ball was redirected to Loϊck Luypaert on the edge of the circle after his initial shot was saved. His rebound was wonderfully met by Thibeau Stockbroekx, who deflected it in for a 1-0 advantage. Six minutes before halftime, India was awarded their first penalty corner after captain Harmanpreet Singh’s original shot struck Arthur de Sloover on the line.
The umpire decided against giving a penalty because Mandeep Singh’s quick goal-mouth reflexes made sure the equaliser went in. With less than two minutes left in the game, Belgium sneaked in the winning goal to tie the score at 1. After a successful video referral, they were given another penalty corner, and Nelson Onana was in the perfect spot at the perfect time to score the game-winning deflection off the right post.
Belgium’s Loϊck Luypaert was named the player of the match and said: “It was a really nice game, we played with a new side – a couple of young guys who played really well in the league in Belgium who trained for the first time with us yesterday, and I think they did really well. They brought the energy and really showed that Belgian hockey has a future after the golden generation.”
Great Britain women’s defeat China womens 1-0.
China had the advantage in the first period and produced many efforts on goal, but GB custodian Sabbie Heesh was up to the challenge. In the second period, the Chinese kept up their dominance, but Gu Bingfeng’s strike from a penalty corner struck the post. In the final seconds of the half, Li Hong produced yet another excellent opportunity, but Heesh once more blocked it, keeping the scoreless at the break.
In the third quarter, against the flow of play, Great Britain scored the game-tying goal thanks to a combination of Sarah Robertson, Elena Rayer, and Hannah Martin. Soon after, Zhang Ying had a chance to tie the score, but despite having plenty of time, she missed with her shot from the top of the D. Due to China’s inability to take advantage of their numerous scoring opportunities, the home team held on to win the game 1-0 in the waning minutes.
Fiona Crackles was named player of the match and said: “[We’re] buzzing to get that win. They’re a very different team to Australia and New Zealand who we’ve just played, so tactically it’s a very different challenge for us, but our plan today was to win well or win ugly. It probably wasn’t the prettiest game out there but we’re happy to win ugly as well.”
Result: Men’s Match 37
Belgium 2-1 India
Player of the Game: Loϊck Luypaert (BEL)
Result: Women’s Match 37
Great Britain 1-0 China
Player of the Game: Fiona Crackles (GBR)