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Indian men beat Argentina 5-4 in shootout of FIH Pro League

Manoj Yadav and Jugraj Singh fight for the ball with Argentina’s Thomas Habif during the FIH Hockey Pro League mini tournament game between India and Argentina at the Wilrijkse Plein in Antwerp, Belgium, Wednesday, May 22, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

The Indian men’s hockey team survived some anxious moments before defeating Argentina 5-4 in shootout after both teams were locked at 2-2 at the end of regulation time in a FIH Pro League match on May 22.

Mandeep Singh (11th minute) and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay scored two field goals for India, while Argentina found the net from penalty corners through Lucas Martinez (20th) and Tomas Domene (60th).

In the shootout, skipper Harmanpreet Singh and Sukhjeet Singh scored twice each with Abhishek being the other scorer.

It was a keen contest between India and Argentina in the first half. While world no.6 India dominated the first quarter, the Los Leones, ranked a rung below, were the better side in the next 15 minutes.

The Indians started on a positive note with Sanjay getting the first shot at the goal in the fifth minute, but his reverse hit was saved by an alert Argentina goalkeeper Tomas Santiago.

But India were not to be denied for long as six minutes later, Mandeep scored from a field effort after being fed by Rajkumar Pal.

The Argentines came close seconds from the first quarter, hitting the post first and then from the rebound Maico Casella scored, but by then, the hooter went up to keep India’s lead intact.

Interestingly, India’s chief coach Craig Fulton continued with veteran PR Sreejesh in front of the goal, indicating his preference for the sole goalkeeper’s slot in the final Paris Olympics squad.

Argentina pushed hard and slowly started to build pressure on the Indian defence in the second quarter.

Argentina, in the process, got three quick penalty corners, the last of which was converted by Lucas Martinez from a rebound after Sreejesh made a brilliant save to keep out Nicolas della Torre’s fierce flick.

In the final five minutes of the second quarter, the Indians secured three back-to-back penalty corners but skipper Harmanpreet failed to find the back of the net.

It was a neck-and-neck fight between the two sides after the change of ends with both India and Argentina managing a few circle entries but goals eluded them.

Seconds from the third quarter, India had a bright chance through Abhishek but his reverse hit was off target.

Then, India scored through Lalit, who pushed in Jarmanpreet Singh’s pass.

Down by a goal, a desperate Argentina withdrew their goalkeeper for an extra field player in search of the equaliser.

Their ploy worked as they exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian defence, which conceded two penalty corners seconds from the final hooter, and Sreejesh was beaten by a fierce fierce flick from Domene to take the match into shootout.

The Indian men’s team will take on hosts Belgium on Friday in the European leg of the Pro League.

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