Rio de Janeiro (13 August, 2016): India fought back to hold Canada to a 2-2 draw in their final men’s hockey Group B match in the Rio Olympics Games on Friday.
After India’s drawn match, Argentina defeated Ireland 3-2 to seal the third spot in the group. It draw meant that India finished the Pool standings in fourth position and will now face Belgium, who finished top of Group A , in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
The Indians struck through Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh in the 32rd and 41st minutes respectively, while Scott Tupper scored in the 33rd minute to help Canada draw level 1-1 and then added the second in the 52nd minute, both times converting the penalty corners, to share points.
India, who have already qualified for the last eight, thus ended the group phase with two wins, two losses and a draw, accumulating seven points in the process.
The other quarterfinals fixtures will be between reigning Olympic champions Germany against New Zealand, Spain takes on Argentina while the Netherlands entertain world champions Australia.
Germany, aiming for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal, defeated Netherlands 2-1 on Friday. In Group A encounters, the Black Sticks ruffled Belgium with a convincing 3-1 victory, Australia blasted nine goals past hosts Brazil without conceeding any and Great Britain held Spain to a 1-1 draw.
Going by form and world rankings, India were the overwhelming favourites against the Canadians, creating many scoring chances but failed to get the best out of it. They dominated the opening two quarters and created their first real scoring chance in the eighth minute but Nikkin Thimmaiah’s reverse hit from close range was blocked by goalkeeper David Carter.
Five minutes later, Carter once again came to his side’s rescue by coming off the line to deny Nikkin. India soon secured their first penalty corner but VR Raghunath’s effort was blocked by a charging defender.
Canada then had the best opportunity to take the lead from a counter attack when an unmarked Matthew Guest found himself in one-on-one situation with Sreejesh but his reverse hit just went wide of the goal, much to the relief of the Indians.
In women’s hockey event, China and Korea played a scoreless draw in an energy-sapping match between the two neighbours while the Netherlands and New Zealand shared a point each after their match ended in a 1-1 draw.
World N0 5 China will meet New Zealand in the last of its group match on Saturday and a win over the Black Sticks will catapult the Asian giants to third spot in the standings and a spot in the quarterfinals.
India’s chances of advancing to the quarterfinals from Group B rest very much on their match against Argentina on Saturday. With just a point to show following the 2-2 draw against Japan, India is now in fifth spot behind Argentina who have 3 points.
Korea and Japan also go into action on Saturday with tough matches against Spain and Australia. A Spain victory over Korea could mean trouble for China who will need to beat the Kiwis to advance to the last eight.
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