| India’s Prabhjot Singh is stopped by German goalkeeper Christian Schulte during their Champions Trophy tie in Amstelveen on Sunday. (AFP)
|Sohail Abbas’ two goals take him to the 200 mark
Amstelveen: India survived some anxious moments to score a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over world champions Germany in the 25th Champions Trophy hockey tournament here on Sunday.
Gagan Ajit Singh finally showed his class by slamming home a bouncing ball from the top of the circle for the matchwinner in the 69th minute as India picked up their first win in two outings.
The verve and vigour seen in India’s 3-4 defeat to Holland was conspicuously missing and it was only in the latter stages of the match that they put together a decent game.
Germany, fielding only a second-string side, shocked India with a 30th-minute goal when Benedict Sperling completed a right wing move initiated by Ulrich Klaus. The Indians equalised eight minutes into the second half when Gagan Ajit tapped in a Deepak Thakur pass following Dhanraj Pillay’s sizzling run down the middle.
But India brought down Benjamin Kopp inside the circle soon after that earned Germany a penalty stroke ten minutes after resumption. Alexander Sahmel converted with a powerful push to give Germany a 2-1 lead.
The Indian shoulders seemed to droop at this point and a defeat loomed large, much like the clouds overhead. To their credit they found their attacking game in the nick of time, and with nine minutes remaining, Prabhjot Singh equalised after Baljit Singh Dhillon let fly one from the top of the circle following a fast move down the left.
India resume their campaign Tuesday with a game against Australia.
Lucky win: Coach
Later, admitting that the stunning loss against Holland in their tournament opener affected the Indians, chief coach Rajinder Singh said his side was “lucky” to prevail over Germany.
“We did not have sufficient time to recover (after the loss against Holland last night) and it affected our performance today. I think, we were very lucky to win.”
Rajinder said after Saturday’s loss, his side was determined to bag full points against Germany although the boys were a little complacent playing against a “development side. I think our boys were far too relaxed knowing that they were playing a development team. A bit of complacency was also there and it nearly cost us the match,” he said.
Butt claims winner
Earlier, winger Rehan Butt slammed a backhander 84 seconds from the close to fetch Pakistan a thrilling 6-5 victory over Argentina, while veteran Teun de Nooijer masterminded a brilliant 5-3 win for holders Holland over Australia.
The Pakistan-Argentina match saw the late goal by Butt sparing the blushes for the Asian side which recorded its first win in two matches following the 4-4 draw with Australia Saturday.
Argentina, playing in only their second Champions Trophy, clawed back from a 0-4 deficit to level at 5-5 nine minutes from the close before Butt’s matchwinner.
At one stage Pakistan, having scored four goals without reply by the 25th minute, looked set to record a runaway victory. .
Two penalty corner conversions by Sohail Abbas (seventh and 11th minutes), put Pakistan on top and then Shabbir Hussain pumped in two field goals in the 14th and 25th to put the former champions firmly in front. Sohail has now completed 200 international goals.
The Pakistanis turned complacent and paid the penalty as Argentina scored twice in the 33rd and 36th through Matias Vila (penalty stroke) and Mario Almada. Pakistan hit back almost immediately as Jawad Kashif found the board in the 39th to make it 5-2.
Argentina then began their amazing fightback with about 15 minutes left on the clock. Lucas Cammareri found his way in to beat Ahmed Alam and Lombi converted a penalty corner to narrow the margin to 4-5. The Pakistanis appeared panicky and Lombi made good a penalty stroke to tie the scores in the 61st minute.
The Pakistanis were a superior side, but they wilted in the latter part of the match and were trifle fortunate to pick up three points when Butt’s reverse hit went in off the post.
In the Holland-Australia match, Teun de Nooijer, hero of many a Dutch triumph, set up the first two goals, as the hosts saw off a late comeback by the Aussies to record their second straight win and top the league table with six points.
The Dutch were far more positive Sunday as compared to Saturday when they came back from 0-3 to beat India 4-3.
Matthijs Brouwer and Karel Klaver capped brilliant runs by De Nooijer to put the Dutch ahead 2-0 by the 22nd minute. The Aussies pulled one back past the 30th when Nathan Eglington came up with a brilliant turn of speed after receiving a Paul Gaudoin pass and slammed home from the top of the circle.
On resumption, the Dutch picked up the pace and scored thrice through Rob Reckers who flicked home from close, Taeke Taekemanalty stroke following an obstruction on Floris Evers.
Trailing 1-5 in the last quarter, the Aussies applied pressure and breached the Dutch defence to score twice. Mathew Wells found the net from a penalty corner and then Dean Butler made the best of a defensive lapse.