Harmanpreet Singh scored a brace and veteran goalkeeper P R Sreejesh stood like a wall within the closing minutes because the Indian males’s hockey workforce overcame a late surge from New Zealand to eke out an in depth 3-2 win in its opening Olympic Games match right here on Saturday.
Harmanpreet (26th and 33rd minutes) scored a double for India, whereas Rupinder Pal Singh (10th) was the opposite goal-getter for the eight-time former champions, at the moment ranked fourth on this planet, within the Pool A match on the Oi hockey stadium right here.
For the eighth-ranked New Zealand, Kane Russell scored from a penalty nook within the sixth minute earlier than Stephen Jenness (43rd minute) decreased the margin of defeat later within the match.
India will subsequent play mighty Australia on Sunday.
The Indians have been shocked within the sixth minute when Russell discovered the highest proper nook of the Indian aim previous Sreejesh with a fierce flick. Even although he didn’t rating, striker Mandeep Singh was a live-wire for India upfront and earned a penalty nook for his facet, which resulted in a penalty stroke from which Rupinder drew parity within the 10th minute.
New Zealand have been to not be left behind as they gave the Indian defence a run for its cash 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 stored 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 within 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 beautiful end previous Sreejesh within the close to publish within the 43rd minute. Three minutes from full time, Lalit Upadhayay’s strike from prime of the circle was blocked brilliantly by Hayward to maintain New Zealand within the hunt.
It was all New Zealand within the last jiffy of the sport as they pressed onerous for the equaliser and within the course of 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 facet safe full factors from the sport.
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