Hosts India produced a spirited effort to eke out a 2-2 draw against Olympic silver medallists Belgium in an evenly-contested Pool C match of the men’s hockey World Cup at Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Pegged back by Alenander Hendricks’ goal in the eighth minute, India made a valiant comeback after the change of ends, scoring two goals in the third and fourth quarter through Harmanpreet Singh (39th) and Simranjeet Singh (47th) to take the lead.
But the hosts’ defence faltered in the final minutes and conceded a late goal when Simon Gougnard scored in the 56th minute to draw level. The draw, however, enabled world no. 5 India to take the top spot in Pool C ahead of Belgium on goal difference. Both teams have a win and a draw from two outings.
India will play their third and final group match against Canada on Saturday, with Belgium facing South Africa. The other Group-C match between South Africa and Canada also ended in a draw last evening, with both teams scoring a goal each. Today, in Pool-A, Spain will take on France at 5 PM, while New Zealand will meet Argentina at 7 PM.
The top team in each Pool at the end of the group stage will book a place in the quarter-finals. To determine the remaining four last-8 berths, cross-over matches will be played between the second and third placed teams of each group.