Eindhoven: A profligate India squandered a one-goal lead to go down 1-4 to the hosts Netherlands in the FIH Hockey Pro League here.
Skipper Harmanpreet Singh (11′) scored India’s lone goal despite the visitors being awarded as many as five penalty corners and a penalty stroke.
Pepijn Reyenga (17′), Boris Burkhardt (40′) and Duco Telgenkamp (41′, 58′) scored in the home team’s victory Wednesday night.
Riding on back-to-back wins in London last weekend, India got off the blocks in Eindhoven establishing an early 1-0 lead in the first quarter.
Though India took some time to shake off the nerves and settle into the game, they showed a good structure that helped them earn opportunities inside the Netherlands’ D.
India was awarded a penalty corner after a foot foul by the Netherlands defender in the 11th minute, a deliberate foul in PC defence saw them being awarded a penalty stroke.
The in-form Harmanpreet broke no sweat in converting the stroke, fetching India an early lead, and also took his individual score to an impressive 17 goals this season.
Backed by a boisterous home crowd, the young Netherlands team bounced back in the second quarter with a fine equaliser through Pepijn Reyenga. He was skillful in his effort to pick up an aerial ball and controlled it well enough to put it past the Indian defence in the 17th minute.
The equaliser put India on the back foot, with the hosts enjoying most of the ball possession. It took India a few minutes to regain their rhythm and foray into the circle with a well-worked attack down the right flank but the hosts defended well to keep the scoreline even.
Only seconds before the hooter, the Netherlands found an opportunity to take the lead when they won a PC from a strong counterattack. But a goal was averted by India’s brave first rusher Amit Rohidas.
Starting the third quarter with a 1-1 stalemate, the match promised to keep the audience glued to their seats. The hosts dominated this quarter with improved ball possession backed by an aggressive attack.
Only minutes into the quarter, Tjep Hoedemakers tested India’s defence when he took a shot on goal from close range but India goalie Krishan Pathak was quick on his feet to make a fine save.
In the 35th minute, India created a good attack from the right flank with the ball being pushed across the face of the goal. Only a slight touch would have put the ball in, but Gurjant Singh’s diving effort went in vain.
The deadlock finally ended in the 40th minute when the Netherlands managed a PC. Boris Burkhardt picked up a good injection to put it past Pathak. Seconds later, Duco Telgenkamp extended the lead to 3-1 with a well-timed field goal.
It didn’t help that India were down to 10 men with Mandeep Singh being awarded a green card seconds before the Netherlands scored back-to-back goals.
Under pressure to score, India began the final quarter with a couple of PCs coming their way but failed to make much of them.
They won another PC about three minutes later but could not put it past the Dutch defence. The final few minutes remained tense for India, as they hunted for that elusive goal.
While a late surge for India looked bleak at this moment with the Netherlands defence being relentless, India conceded a goal when Telgenkamp sealed the issue completing a double.
Though India earned a PC seconds after this goal, Rohidas’s flick didn’t make the target. With less than 30 seconds left for the final hooter, India earned a penalty stroke after a stick tackle foul but Netherlands’ goalie Pirmin Blaak made a brilliant save off Harmanpreet’s flick, ending the match with 4-1 on the board.
India will take on Argentina Thursday.