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India get past NZ

- Michael Nobbs’ men move to the top of Pool A

Melbourne: India recovered after conceding an early self-goal to prevail 4-2 over New Zealand and move to the top of Pool A in the Champions Trophy, here, on Sunday.

The victory gave India six points from two matches, making them the only unbeaten team in the pool following England’s surprise 4-1 win over Germany earlier in the day.

New Zealand took the lead in the third minute when India conceded a self-goal, which has been introduced in hockey after the Olympic Games.

Rupinderpal Singh failed to cleanly stop Sardara Singh’s back-pass in front of the goal and the ball trickled over the goalline to concede India’s first self-goal in international hockey.

India restored parity through a self-goal. In the 10th minute Akashdeep Singh dived for a deflection on a Sardara long through ball, which went into the goal off a defender.

A fine field goal by Gurwinder Singh Chandi (14th) and a penalty corner conversion by VR Raghunath (25th) gave India a 3-1 lead at the interval before New Zealand came back through a flash strike by Nicholas Wilson two minutes into the second half.

Mounting pressure through repeated raids, India put the game out of New Zealand’s reach when Danish Mujtaba capitalised on a rebound from the goalkeeper.

This was India’s second win in successive days, following the 3-1 win over England in their opening match on Saturday.

India coach Michael Nobbs was delighted. “I’m happy with the boys and the manner in which they have played,” Nobbs said.

“They are a young bunch and they’ve combined well in their first tournament together. These two wins will boost the confidence of the youngsters a great deal,” he added.

India next play Germany on Tuesday.

Sardara was under pressure from the New Zealand strikers when he sent a diagonal back-pass to Rupinderpal inside the circle.

Rupinderpal’s inability to cleanly trap the ball conceded the early lead, but India did well to recover from the lapse.

Mounting pressure through a couple of fine raids got India back into the game, and Sardara’s ability to find the gaps through long balls caused the trouble that got India the equaliser. Akashdeep dived to find the though-pass from the midfield.

Four minutes later, Gurwinder shot in from close in a breakaway move down the right flank and India were on a roll, although they conceded two penalty corners before forcing one at the other end.

New Zealand’s Stephen Jenness had the Indian goal under pressure when he trapped a cross from the right inside the circle and unleashed a firm reverse shot that was blocked by Indian goalkeeper TR Potunuri.