Rio de Janeiro (Brazil): The Indian men’s hockey team failed to maintain their winning momentum as they suffered a heart-breaking 1-2 defeat against defending gold-medallist Germany on Monday, courtesy a late deflected goal from Christopher Ruhr.
India showed plenty of muscle and craft in the early parts of the encounter, after Germany had made an early burst with some powerful midfield play.
Unsurprisingly though, India who had packed men behind the ball had the first real sniff of a goal. A superb pass up field, found Nikkin Thimmaiah in the circle, with plenty to do. His first touch took the ball to the reverse and the shot, struck with power seemed destined for the corner before, Jacobi stuck a foot out to pass it away. The game was still without an opener at the end of the first quarter.
Germany soon corrected that though, with a well worked field goal. Linus Butt’s pass was received by Niklas Wellen inside the circle. Wellen turned, and steered away from Surender and the goal, before unleashing a shot into the bottom corner to give Germany the lead in the 18th minute.
It took for a goal to spur India into action and very soon, it was the defending champions under pressure. Wave after wave of attacks were thwarted away from the edges of the circle, before SV Sunil’s run down the right flank and a smart turn in the box ended up on the foot of a German defender. India had their first penalty corner.
It was all Rupinder Pal Singh needed, slotting the ball to Jacobi’s right with power, to draw them level. The goal, in the 23rd minute, meant he had scored three of four penalty corner attempts in the tournament.
India kept up the relentless pressure, not caging down after the equaliser, and minutes after, Nikkin had his second opportunity of the game, only for Jacobi to deny him, again. Raghunath’s incisive pass from the top the box had Nikkin in front of the goal, and his deflection looked set to sound the board before Jacobi’s dive pushed it away, India denied the lead.
Akashdeep singlehandedly fashioned another attempt soon after. First drawing and then turning away from three defenders before unleashing a shot just wide of goal. The two teams went into half time levelled.
In a tepid third quarter, India again came closest, with another Rupinder Pal’s penalty corner saved by custodian Jacobi. The rebound fell to Chinglensana whose shot was parried away by Jacobi again. Ramandeep picked up the loose ball and his cross found Nikkin in the box. Jacobi though was at hand again to keep his team in the game and level.
In the final quarter, India pushed forward in numbers not content with playing out the draw, and were even a man up for a time in the period. Germany defended in numbers though, and with the clock ticking down, brought the final twist to the game, Christopher Ruhr scoring with just three seconds left in the game to give Germany the victory.
India, who clinched an impressive 3-2 win over Ireland in the opening match, will play their next Pool B match against Argentina on August 9. (ANI)