TOKYO – The Manpreet Singh-led Indian men's hockey team suffered a defeat at the hands of Belgium in the first semi-final of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics here at Oi Hockey Stadium North Pitch Aug. 3. Belgium defeated India 5-2 in the semi-final and they will now face the winner of the second semi-final between Australia and Germany in the gold medal match on Aug. 5.
On the other hand, India will lock horns in the bronze medal match Thursday with the loser of the game between Australia and Germany. The Indian team started well and looked to keep up the good work, but lost the tempo slightly in the last quarter and that is where the team from Belgium capitalized. In fact, the last goal was a case of the Belgium players taking advantage as India withdrew goalie Sreejesh and brought in a field player. Loick Luypaert gave Belgium an early lead in the match as he registered a goal in the starting minutes of the first quarter and as a result, India was put on the back foot straight away.
However, India struck back as Harmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh scored goals in quick succession, and as a result, India gained a 2-1 lead in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Belgium got the equalizer as Alexander Hendrickx successfully converted a penalty corner, and it brought the scoreline level to 2-2. No more goals were scored in the second quarter, and the scoreline remained level.
The deadlock was not broken in the third quarter as well, and as a result, heading into the last 15 minutes of the game, both India and Belgium were highly tensed. In the fourth quarter, it was Belgium who struck first as Hendrickx scored his second goal of the match, giving Belgium a 3-2 lead with more than 11 minutes still left to play.
A few minutes later, Hendrickx got his hat-trick as he converted from a penalty and hence, Belgium gained a 4-2 lead. In the end, Belgium managed to hang on and the side registered a victory, progressing ahead to the finals, their second successive final appearance.
Earlier, India had defeated Great Britain 3-1 in the quarterfinals Aug. 1 to enter the last four stage.