Shootout victory in favour of Netherlands

It was an exciting match up as Harmanpreet’s penalty corner flick drew India and Netherlands 2-2 in the final seconds of the game. Despite the late heroics, the Netherlands earned the bonus point with a 4-1 score line in the shootout.

The Netherlands opened the scoring in the first quarter with some patience and precision in the Indian circle. A baseline run from Derck de Vilder drew open the space for the pass to find Tijmen Reyenga but credit to Reyenga who patiently moved the ball away from the net to be able to unleash a rocket past Sreejesh.

A half-field aerial was brought down in the Dutch circle by Abishek and persistence paid off as he was the beneficiary of two shots that ultimately became two saves by keeper Pirmin Blaak. Then the Dutch looked dangerous as Thierry Brinkman’s cross found Jorrit Croon but the one-timer went just wide of the Indian net.

Dilpreet Singh made it 1-1 before half time on a superb deflection from a free hit outside the 23-meter line taken quickly by Kumar Varun.

The teams traded attacks but it was the Netherlands who secured the next tally. A counter-attack that started from the top of the Dutch circle sprung Steijn van Heijningen who was able to cleverly find Koen Bijen. Bijen curled and finished with a diving effort to bring the Netherlands up 2-1. India continued to push for the tying goal but the Dutch put on a resilient defensive game around their circle. The Dutch had a penalty corner to advance their lead with minutes left in the game but Sreejesh steered the Jip Janssen flick wide.

Abishek earned the all-important penalty corner for India with 20 seconds left on the clock. Harmanpreet’s flick was blocked but a re-award gave India the second chance. Harmanpreet made no mistake this time beating Blaak glove side low to force the shootout.

Terrance Pieters, Thijs van Dam and Jonas de Geus and Koen Bijen all found a way past Sreejesh, while Blaak made two great saves on Harmanpreet and Abishek. Prasad Vivek Sagar was the lone Indian player to score as he quickly turned to slot the ball under Blaak. With the 4-1 score line the Netherlands take the extra point to move to the top of the FIH Pro League standings.

Thijs van Dam was named Player of the Match from the Netherlands. He commented that the team played well in regulation time and were unfortunate to have a corner against in the final seconds. He gave credit to India who have been playing well so far in the Pro League and who played well at the Tokyo Olympic Games.