THE HAGUE: India’s last minute curse continues to haunt them as England snatched victory through a Simon Mantell goal with just 75 seconds left on the clock. The match looked to be heading towards a 1-1 draw as play from both teams veered between brilliant and pedestrian. India were the livelier going forwards but England’s defence was resolute and while India always threatened to score the spectacular goal, in fact they were forced to take shots that were either wide, high or easy for goalkeeper George Pinner to deal with.
In the opening minutes Mandeep Singh and Manpreeet Singh kept the England defence busy with their darting runs and mercurial dribbling skills and two penalty corners resulted from their mesmerising creativity. Captain Sardar Singh was a constant thorn in the England side, but it was Akashdeep Singh who nearly broke the deadlock with a shot that whistled inches past Pinner’s goal. England lost the services of Dan Fox when Rupinder Singh struck a penalty corner with force and caught Fox on the kneecap. He left the field on a stretcher and played no further part in the game.
The deadlock was finally broken when Mark Gleghorne (27’) scored through a powerful drag flick after Nick Catlin won a penalty corner. The lead was short-lived as just three minutes later Dharamvir Singh (30’) scored an extraordinary goal as he bounced it over Pinner’s head. The second half remained goalless, but was anything but dull. Pinner was the busier goalkeeper, being forced to meet Mandeep Singh on the edge of the circle and then watching a rocketing shot from Yuvraj Walmiki whistle just wide of the England post. At the other end of the field Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton spearheaded England attacks, but found Harjot Singh in good form in the India goal. With just over one minute left on the clock, and against the run of play, England won a penalty corner and Simon Mantell was on hand to fire the rebound home, netting England’s second goal and, more importantly, three points. This is the second game of the World Cup that India has lost in the dying seconds of the game.
Australian rout Spain: Earlier, Holders Australia stayed atop their group in the men’s hockey World Cup by posting their second straight victory, defeating Spain 3-0 at the Kyocera Stadium here on Monday. Two early goals put the Australians in a commanding position from which the Spaniards could not dislodge them. Spain struggled to come to terms with the pace and strength of the reigning champions in the first half, and for a while it looked as if the Kookaburras were going to run up a cricket score. Spain have just one point from two games after holding England to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Timothy Deavin opened the scoring for Australia in the second minute in open play and captain Mark Knowles increased the lead in the 10th minute by deftly flicking in a penalty stroke. Spain’s defenders then held on against repeated raids and created a few openings themselves before Australia rounded off the scoring in the 33rd minute on a penalty corner conversion by Kieran Govers. Australia lead the Group A with six points from two matches, while Belgium are in second place with three points from their first game against India, who will later today take on England.
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