In a riveting encounter at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Sreejesh’s goalkeeper India showcased resilience, securing a thrilling 4-2 shootout victory against defending champions, the Netherlands, in their FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 clash.
The match was marked by the heroics of ace goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who made two crucial saves during the shootout. India secured a bonus point with successful conversions by Harmanpreet Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, and Shamsher Singh.
The game started with the world’s top-ranked team, the Netherlands, making aggressive attacks on India’s circle, but goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak thwarted their attempts. In the 12th minute, India broke the deadlock as Hardik Singh skillfully netted a goal, giving them a 1-0 lead.
Despite India’s bright start to the second quarter, the Dutch defense held firm. Both teams earned penalty corners, but neither could capitalize. Jip Janssen equalized for the Netherlands just before halftime, making it 1-1.
The third quarter saw a tense battle, with the Netherlands taking a 2-1 lead through Koen Bijen. India survived subsequent penalty corners, maintaining hope for a comeback.
The final quarter witnessed intense action, with both teams creating opportunities. In the 58th minute, Harmanpreet Singh, playing his 200th match, converted a penalty corner to level the score at 2-2. With less than three minutes remaining, India removed their goalkeeper for an extra outfield player and earned a penalty corner. Harmanpreet capitalized again, ensuring a dramatic equalizer.
In the dying seconds, Sreejesh’s made crucial saves, denying the Dutch a winning goal. The regulation time ended in a 2-2 stalemate, leading to a thrilling shootout where Sreejesh’s heroics sealed India’s victory.
The match showcased India’s determination, with notable performances from Harmanpreet Singh and the exceptional goalkeeping skills of Sreejesh. The win not only earned India crucial points but also highlighted their competitive prowess in the FIH Hockey Pro League.
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