It wasn’t exacting sweet revenge for the Indian men’s hockey team to pull off a 5-4 shootout win in the FIH Pro League against Belgium. But it was some solace nonetheless for the Graham Reid-coached Indian outfit as it probably helped them wipe off bitter memories of losing 2-5 to the Red Lions in the semifinals of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Playing Belgium in their own backyard is never easy and Michael Van Den Heuvel-coached Olympic and world champion side were always going to be favourties going into the contest. However, India appeared to scupper their plans when Shamsher Singh drew first blood in a goalmouth scramble.
Spurred on by a boisterous home crowd, the Red Lions indeed roared! Cedric Charlier evened things in the second quarter before Simon Gougnard put them with a third quarter strike. Nicolas De Kerpel provided the hosts with a two-goal cushion firing home a shortie in the final quarter.
India appeared heading for a defeat with just eight minutes left for the final hooter. The Amit Rohidas-led side reduced the deficit via a penalty stroke conversion by Harmanpreet Singh and produced the equaliser in a scintilating short corner where Jugraj Singh sold a dummy and relayed it to Jarmanpreet Singh who slammed home a fine indirectly taken PC goal as the match headed into a shootout.
Sreejesh churned out a crucial penalty stroke save in the shootout off Alexander Hendrickx to help India earn the bonus point from the first leg.