Hockey World Cup: India, England miss chances galore for a goalless draw
Rourkela, January 15, 2023
India survived a dying-moments scare as they played a nerve-wracking goalless draw with England in their second Pool D match of the Hockey World Cup at the Birsa Munda Stadium here this evening.
Both the teams now have four points each (one win, one draw). India faces Wales and England takes on Spain in their last pool matches which will decide the pool leader who will straight go into the quarter- finals.
Earlier Spain chalked out an impressive 5-1 win over Wales to keep their hopes alive for the quarter-final berth.
It was a saga of missed chances as two experienced teams, India and England, dished out delightful and but error-prone hockey, without scoring a goal, which kept the packed stadium on the edge of their seats.
England had India at the mercy in first 20 minutes in which they forced seven penalty corners without any result. The hosts had only one penalty corner in that period.
The Englishmen had their chances but could not beat Sreejesh in the goal or failed to get past rushers Amit Rohidas or Manpreet while they took the penalty corner.
Five minutes into the second quarter, the hosts started regaining their ground and attacking the rival defence. The Indian midfield came alive as Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, and Akashdeep Singh launched relentless attacks from both the flanks, finding the gaps.
Hardik Singh, Abhishekh and Nilkanta Sharma put tremendous pressure on the English defence but could not get past goal keeper Ollie Payne, who was named man of the match.
As India were piling pressure on the rivals, the Englishmen launched a fierce counter and in the 39th minute Siam Ward had the best chance of the match as he had only Sreejesh to beat. Ward went for the chip but missed the target.
England fared worse with its penalty corners — earning eight but could not convert any of them. India also were no good as they muffed five penalty corners.
This was a match India should have won but Hardik missed a couple of good chances while other strikers found Ollie Payne tough to beat.
The second half saw India dominate possession and territory with midfielder Hardik Singh being the standout player, but once again there were no finishing touches to be found in the circle.
Mandeep Singh did get the ball in the back of the goal towards the end of the 3rd quarter but the whistle had already been blown for a foul before the goal. Phil Roper was on the end of a great long pass, which just left him with the keeper to beat, but his attempt to lift the ball over Sreejesh went just wide and India breathed a sigh of relief.
English keeper Payne was awarded player of the match and said: “We had a good game overall but are a little disappointed not to have capitalised on the scoring opportunities we had today. It was a game we could’ve won, but it's a hard-earned point and we will take it."
Earlier, for Spain, who led 2-0 at half-time, the goal scorers were Marc Reyne, Marc Miralles (two each) and Alvaro Iglesias (one). James Carson reduced the margin for Wales.
The three points and the margin of victory virtually assured that Spain,who had lost to India in the opener, will not finish last in the pool while debutant Wales hopes of making to the knock-out round are almost are over, having lost both the matches they have played so far and their last pool league match is against India to be played in Bhubaneswar
The Red Sticks dictated the proceedings but were not able to convert chances inside the Welsh circle. Skipper Marc Miralles made a blistering run from deep inside his own half down the left flank but his powerful shot from inside the circle was saved by Toby Reynolds-Cotterill.
Spain finally surged ahead in the first minute of the second quarter when Marc Reyne got past a couple of defenders and with a powerful shot sent the ball (1-0). Six minutes later it was 2-0 for the favourites as Alvaro Iglesias made no mistake in deflecting the Gerard Claps cross into the goal.
Spain had a chance to increase the lead in the 28th minute when they were awarded a stroke, but Miralles' scoop went over the bar.
However, two minutes into the third quarter, Miralles made amends for his miss and scored off a penalty corner to take the lead to 3-0.
Spain virtually sealed the match in the 38th minute when Marc Reyne scored his second and team’s fourth goal
Wales strikers made some efforts to get into the rival defence and they managed to earn a penalty corner. Rhodri Furlong’s powerful flick was cleared by Rafi Adrian.
Against the run of play in the 52nd minute, Wales striker James Carson intercepted the ball near the circle, beat a couple of defenders and slotted the ball home much to the bewilderment of Spain players (1-4).
Spain launched a furious counter attack and four minutes before the final whistle Miralles scored his second and theteam’s fifth goal to complete the tally.