THE INDIAN U-21 team came from behind to defeat Spain 2-1 in a Quarter Final match on Day 8 of the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men Lucknow 2016.
With this victory, India advance to the Semi Finals where they will face Australia in what promises to be another thriller of a match.
India started the proceedings with aggression and speed in front of a big, cheering crowd at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Lucknow. However, Spain opened the scoring with Marc Serrahima deflecting a strong hit from Pol Parrilla to go 1-0 up. They visitors would go on to maintain the lead at half time.
The boys in blue looked to turn things around in the second half, as an attacking approach from Captain Harjeet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Nilakanta Sharma kept a sustained pressure on Spain. A few tense moments and two unsuccessful penalty corners later, India had a chance to celebrate as Simranjeet Singh made full use of the third PC to score the equalizer in the 57th minute.
In the closing stages of the second half, India stepped up their game and played with renewed aggression. Harmanpreet Singh made full use of a penalty corner in the 66th minute with a powerful shot that went past goalkeeper Albert Perez. India denied the Spain any more success and won the match by a 2-1 margin.
Harmanpreet Singh was presented the Man of the Match award from Shri Partha Sarthi Sen Sharma (IAS), Secretary to Chief Minister, Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier, Belgium, Germany, and Australia were winners on Quarter Final day. Belgium overcame Argentina to set up a Semi Final meeting with reigning champions Germany, who defeated England in the second Quarter Final of the day. The Netherlands' wait for a first men’s Junior World Cup title continues after being beaten by Australia in the third Quarter Final.
Pool B winners Belgium were given a stern test by Pool A runners up Argentina before eventually triumphing in the shoot-out. Belgium had the better of the first half chances but found Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Bosso in fine form to make a series of excellent saves to keep the Red Cougars off the score-sheet. Argentina threatened on the counter-attack throughout the first period, and it was they who took the lead early in the second half when Captain Maico Casella smashed a volley off the underside of the crossbar from close range. Belgium eventually got their leveller, with Captain Victor Wegnez scoring two minutes from the end to send the match into a shoot-out in which Belgian goalkeeper Loic Van Doren excelled. Van Doren was beaten only once, with Nicolas Poncelet, Arthur De Sloover, Victor Wegnez and Henri Raes scoring the goals to put Belgium into the Semi Finals.
Pool C winners Germany survived an impressive fight-back to emerge as 4-2 winners against England. Goals from Jan Schiffer and Lukas Windfeder gave Germany a 2-0 lead at the break before Florian Scholten made it 3-0 with 18 minutes of the match remaining. England's Edward Horler netted twice in two minutes to drag his team back into the match before a goal from Timm Herzbruch sealed the victory for Germany.
The third Quarter Final match of the day was a bruising battle between Australia and Netherlands, with the Burras sealing their Semi Final spot with a 2-1 triumph. Australia took the lead thanks to a wonderful piece of skill from Kiran Arunasalam, who produced a brilliant touch in front of Dutch goalkeeper Maurits Visser to find the net. Dutchman Jip Janssen slammed home a penalty corner drag flick midway through the second half. The Australians were not to be denied, however, with Jack Welch firing home a close-range winner.