Goalkeeper PR Srijesh saved a penalty stroke in the exciting shootout after the Indian men’s team lost 5-4 against Olympic champion Belgium in the first leg of the two-legged FIH Pro Hockey League on Saturday.
With just eight minutes to go, the Indians trailed by 1-3 but the penalty shoot-out forced a 3-3 lead.
Srijesh Nicholas de Kerpel failed his attempt when the shootout was locked to 4-4 and Akashdeep Singh went on to win the Tokyo Games bronze medalist 5-4.
Srijesh was brilliant under the bar as usual, failing several attempts from the hosts throughout the match but his two saves in the final quarter proved crucial.
In the first quarter of the event, Sri Hesh ended up in a goalless silence with two saves to do a fantastic job under the bar.
India got their first chance to open the scoring but both short corners were overturned as the home goalie failed his efforts with his rock hard defense.
Skydeep also hit a shot near the goalpost that would flick into the post on any other day.
However, at the beginning of the second quarter, Abhishek’s shot recovered from the defender’s leg and Shamsher Singh (18 ‘) hit the net after tapping the high ball.
The Belgium equalized through Cedric Charlier (21 ‘) who flipped a pass by Nicholas de Kerpel. Arthur Van Doren pushed it from the left flank toward Kerpel.
Neither team got a penalty corner per capita.
The hosts broke the deadlock in the third quarter, when Simon Goungard (36 ‘) brought home a horrific shot after Florent van Abel gave up a well-controlled ball to his teammate.
Srijesh defended India with more humiliation when he made two heroic saves, kept the ball away from his stick and stretched it to his right.
De Kerpell finally broke the defense with a furious hit in the penalty corner to make it 3-1.
India were brought to life when Manpreet Singh converted a penalty into a Harmanpreet goal and a two-minute hooter equalized through the Germanpreet Singh short corner.
India picked up the change after Jugraj faked a stroke and allowed it to slide behind his back to the Germanpreet and the latter blasted it to the net. PTI AT AT AH AT