Rio de Janeiro: Indian men’s hockey team’s perennial habit of conceding late goals continued to haunt them as reigning double Olympic champions Germany scored seconds from the final hooter to steal a 2-1 win in a thrilling Pool B match of the Rio Olympics, here today.
It was heart-break for the Indian fans as despite playing near perfect hockey for the major part of the match the Germans stole the win with just 3.1 seconds from full time.
After weathering India’s attacking onslaught for the majority of the game, the Germans exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian defence in the final two minutes.
The Indian defence, which had a good match and stood firm all throughout, fumbled in the final seconds as Christopher Ruhr scored the winner for Germany with a deflection from close range to dash the PR Sreejesh-led side’s hopes.
Earlier, Germany took the lead against the run of play through a field goal from Niklas Wellen (18th minute) before Rupinder Pal Singh (23rd) drew parity for India by converting his third penalty corner of the Games.
The win helped Germany keep their successful run intact against India since 1996. India last defeated Germany in Olympics way back in the Atlanta Games when they secured a 3-0 victory.
But despite the loss, the Indians can take heart from the fact that they dished out a much better display against Germany today than what they managed in the recent past, which includes a 3-3 draw against a depleted German side in the Champions Trophy in London and 0-4 thrashing in Valencia just prior to the Olympics.
India started the match as underdogs going by the recent record against the mighty Germans, who were in search of their third successive Olympic gold but it turned out to a very closely contested battle.
It was even stevens between the two sides in the first two quarters with both teams showcasing some good attacking and defending skills. The Indians had the better share of exchanges in the first quarter and even put the opposition under tremendous pressure midway through the first quarter, but the German defence did just enough to avert any crisis.
It was India who had the first scoring chance in the 11th minute but Nikkin Thimmaiah’s backhand shot from a Akashdeep Singh feed was padded away by an alert Nicolas Jacobi in front of German goal.