Men’s FIH Pro League hockey: India thump Germany 3-0 in first leg

Harmanpreet Singh scored two penalty corners in the second quarter to put India firmly in the driver’s seat.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by Hockey India

The Indian men’s hockey team beat a young German side 3-0 in the first leg of their FIH Pro League 2021-22 tie at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on Thursday.

Harmanpreet Singh (18’, 27’) converted two penalty corners while Abhishek (45’) deflected in a third goal to hand India three points.

With the win, India consolidated the top position in the FIH Pro League standings and now have 24 points from 11 matches. Germany are second with 17 points from nine games.

India, ranked fourth in the world hockey rankings – one above Germany, pressed hard from the first whistle. The young German side was, however, firm with their defence.

The home team made the first circle penetration in the fifth minute but captain Amit Rohidas could not control an aerial ball on the right side of the goal.

Only a minute later, India won their first penalty corner that Jugraj Singh could not put past the charging German defence.

The visitors could have gone ahead in the 10th minute if it wasn’t for Harmanpreet Singh’s timely clearance from right in front of the India goal.

Although India had more opportunities to score, the young German team defended in numbers to end the first quarter with the score at 0-0.

Early in the second period, a push from Benedikt Schwarzhaupt on Manpreet Singh inside the circle earned India their second penalty corner.

Harmanpreet Singh, the highest scorer of the ongoing FIH Pro League, converted the PC with a beautiful flick to the bottom right corner and handed India the lead. It was his 15th goal of the season.

The Men in Blue could have doubled their lead in the 23d minute, but Harmanpreet’s attempt was saved by German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler.

Germany, on the other hand, tried to build from the back but had little success and were often dispossessed in the final third.

Action moved to the other end of the pitch in the 27th minute as Harmanpreet Singh converted another penalty corner. This time, it was a low, slow shot to the bottom right which the goalkeeper failed to judge.

The first half ended with India leading 2-0.

Germany upped their attacking intent after the break but almost conceded one more after a brilliant counter attack from India.

Hardik Singh carried the ball all the way from his own circle to the opposite end. He could not score but earned India a penalty corner, which India eventually missed.

Germany played the possession game for the remainder of the third period, which did not fetch any goals. India, though, found their third following another penalty corner.

Drag flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh slammed the ball low to the left of the charging defenders. Abhishek cleverly deflected in to put India 3-0 up going into the final period.

The fourth quarter saw India easing off on the attack and Germany upping the ante.

A string of attacks from the visitors earned them a penalty corner in the 53rd minute but India used their video referral to overturn the decision.

Indian goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, who had remained largely unperturbed in the first three quarters, was on his toes in the final minutes.

With two minutes to go, Hardik Singh was shown the yellow card but it meant little as India comfortably sealed a 3-0 victory.

India will play Germany again on April 15 at the same venue.

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