Harmanpreet Singh scored a brace and veteran goalkeeper P R Sreejesh stood like a wall in the closing minutes because the Indian males’s hockey workforce overcame a late surge from New Zealand to eke out a detailed 3-2 win in its opening Olympic Games match right here on Saturday.
Harmanpreet (twenty sixth and thirty third minutes) scored a double for India, whereas Rupinder Pal Singh (tenth) was the opposite goal-getter for the eight-time former champions, at present ranked fourth in the world, in the Pool A match on the Oi hockey stadium right here.
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For the eighth-ranked New Zealand, Kane Russell scored from a penalty nook in the sixth minute earlier than Stephen Jenness (forty third minute) decreased the margin of defeat later in the match.
India will subsequent play mighty Australia on Sunday.
The Indians had been shocked in the sixth minute when Russell discovered the highest proper nook of the Indian aim previous Sreejesh with a fierce flick.
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Even although he did not rating, striker Mandeep Singh was a live-wire for India upfront and earned a penalty nook for his aspect, which resulted in a penalty stroke from which Rupinder drew parity in the tenth minute.
New Zealand had been to not be left behind as they gave the Indian defence a run for its money securing 4 consecutive penalty corners however wasted all.
From a counter-attack, Gurjant got here near handing India the lead however his effort was saved by New Zealand goalkeeper Leon Hayward.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Hayward once more got here to the scene when he saved away India skipper Manpreet Singh’s lob from a one-on-one state of affairs.
But six minutes later, Harmanpreet gave India a 2-1 lead on the half-time.
Three minutes after the change of ends, Harmanpreet was once more in the thick of issues when he transformed his second penalty nook of the day with a precision strike.
India secured one other penalty nook minutes later however this time Harmanpreet’s effort was saved by the Kiwi defence.
But the match got here to life when Jenness scored with a stunning end previous Sreejesh in the close to put up in the forty third minute.
Three minutes from full time, Lalit Upadhayay’s strike from prime of the circle was blocked brilliantly by Hayward to maintain New Zealand in the hunt.
It was all New Zealand in the ultimate couple of minutes of the sport as they pressed laborious for the equaliser and in the method earned three penalty corners in fast succession however Sreejesh got here to India’s rescue making some sensible saves to maintain the opponents at bay.
With 24 seconds to go, New Zealand secured one other penalty nook however as soon as once more the skilled Sreejesh got here to India’s rescue and helped his aspect safe full factors from the sport. PTI SSC PM PM