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Crucial draw for Belgium and India (12/2/2018)
--s2h Team
This is one situation both India and Belgium would not welcome. They would have wanted an outright victory on Day 5 of the World Cup. They drew their much awaited encounter 2-2, Belgium striking the equalizer four minutes from hooter time. A win would have put one of them straight into the quarters after easy looking next match. However, each team undefined outplaying the other in either half, the world's top three and five ranked teams settled for a honourable and exciting draw.

When the Belgians came all cylinders firing in the first half, it appeared the Red Lions will make mincemeat of India. Excellent game sense that included two successful referrals that fetched them PCs and the first goal, Belgium juggernaut seemed rolling in the land of Juggernaut but India changed gears early in the second half to tilt the tide in its favour. Harmanpreet Singh through a stroke and then Simranjeet Singh with a deft deflection off Kothajit Singh got India crucial 2-1 lead. But four minutes before the end time, playing without goalie Vincent Vanasch, Belgium extracted the elusive equalizer in the 56th minute through enterprising effort of Simon Gougnard. Simon cut through from the right before flatfooting Surender Kumar and then goalie PR Sreejesh.

undefined India had created enough chances to increase the lead after the 2-2 draw, but nerves got over the precision. Varun, who was deservedly adjudged the Man of the Match, provided a couple of overheads in that spell, but once Lalit Upadhyay and then Mandeep Singh frittered away the gilt edged chances to again go up and finish the game in their favour.

Now, the results of last pool matches, one between Canada and India and the other with Belgium-South Africa, will throw clear picture as to the crucial pool topper who can avoid cross over match for grabbing the quarters' slot. India now has +5 goal difference four more than Belgium's. Today's draw has put Belgium on the gigantic task of scoring plenty of goals, in the range of 7-10 against Africa. If India can produce good win against Canada, Belgium will be relegated to cross over spell. Interestingly, India will take on Canada after Belgium-South Africa match. This will give India to plan its game well so as to top the pool.

The way India emerged after lemon time after playing a subdue role in the entire 30 minutes before, is hert warming. Tightening the midfield, India did not allow any elbow room for Belgium who had a free time earlier to send a battery of pushes into the circle, that got them nuanced penalty corners out of which they took the lead (1-0).

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Belgium started the match ferociously. Couple of long pushes saw them getting penalty corners due to clever referrals. Within a minute, a foot in tackling Surender Kumar inside the circle got them first penalty corner, and then Birendra got the other.

Hendricks Alexander managed to send the ball between the legs of Sreejesh who was diving to his right. This 8th minute goal silenced the crowd. The full crowd came to live when Varun's penalty corner struck a defender at the far end of the post, resulting in the only stroke of the tournament so far. Harmanpreet Singh had no difficulty in placing the ball inside the cage.

India would not have gone through such a long spell of struggling before this goal had only Dilpreet Singh been a bit of unselfish, and then on occasions Mandeep Singh be more alert and purposeful in his acts.

Akashdeep Singh could not shine as linkman unlike against South Africa, but once he was shifted to his usual attacking position, the team jelled well.

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