Indian eves hold Belgium junior men for 2-2 draw

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Antwerp (Belgium), Sep 12 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey team held on to a 2-2 draw against the Belgium junior mens team in a closely fought match of the ongoing Europe Tour here.

India, led by captain Rani Rampal, started the match on a positive note earning a penalty corner within 40 seconds of the start but could not convert it and again failed to convert another PC, two minutes later on Monday.

However, it was the young Belgium team who got three PCs in a span of six minutes, but goalkeeper Savita did well to keep the home side from taking an early lead. Forward Vandana Katariya created a beautiful chance for India inside the striking circle but could not score as the first quarter ended goalless.

The second quarter saw both sides taking a more direct approach as Belgium enjoyed more possession giving them the lead through Stan Branicki in the 19th minute. India soon earned a penalty corner but their effort was saved by the junior World Cup finalists’ goalkeeper which meant Belgium led by a goal at the end of second quarter.

The third quarter started on a brighter note for India as Nikki Pradhan levelled the score in the 36th minute. India dominated the third quarter as midfielder Neha Goyal came close to scoring but was denied by another brilliant save by Belgium’s goalkeeper.

However, the home team took the lead again in the 43rd minute as they rallied for a wonderful field goal scored by Matthieu de Laet.

The hosts started the fourth quarter swiftly as Indian goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu had to make a reflex save. The visitors fought back into the match in the dying stages as Vandana (54th minute) scored with just few minutes left to full time and equalise the scores at 2-2.

However, few minutes later Belgium managed to get another PC which was well saved by Rajani and cleared by defender Sunita Lakra. The home team forced Rajani into making yet another impressive save in the dying minutes as the Indian defence held on to a well-deserved 2-2 draw.

India will play Ladies Den Bosch in their third match of the Europe Tour on Thursday.

–IANS

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