In a one-sided clash, India beat Canada 5-1 to qualify for quarterfinals of hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. India topped the Pool C with 7 points.
India’s Lalit Upadhyay scored a twice, while Harmanpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh and Amit Rohidas scored a goal each. India’s first goal came from the stick of Harmanpreet Singh who scored in the 12th minute through a penalty corner. But after the opening goal, the second quarter went goalless as both teams failed to breach opposition's defence.
In the third quarter, Floris van Son scored the equaliser for Canada. In the final quarter, India scored four goals in quick succession to take the game away from Canada.
India scored four goals in the fourth quarter through Chinglensana Singh (46th minute), Lalit Upadhyay (47th, 57th) and Amit Rohidas (51st). By virtue of this win, India finished on top of Pool C with seven points ahead of world no.3 Belgium on account of better goal difference. Belgium, too on seven points, finished second ahead of third placed Canada after thrashing South Africa 5-1 in the other Pool C game earlier in the day.
South Africa crashed out of the tournament. While India qualified directly for the quarterfinals by being the toppers, Belgium and Canada will play in the cross-overs for a place in the last-eight round. Canada too overcame South Africa by virtue of a better goal difference. Both the teams finished their pool engagements with one point apiece.
India will play their quarterfinal match on December 13. Earlier in the day, Olympic silver medallist Belgium outclassed South Africa 5-1 in their last pool game. Alexander Hendrickx (14th, 22nd minutes) scored a brace while Simon Gougnard (18th), Loick Luypaert (30th) and Cedric Charlier (48th) were the other goal-scorer for Belgium. South Africa, on the other hand, had stunned the world no.3 side just 36 seconds from the start through Nicholas Spooner's field strike.
The match between India and Canada was touted to be a battle between attack and defence and it panned out exactly the same as the hosts attacked in numbers from the onset to create quite a few scoring chances. India's first scoring chance came in the ninth minute when skipper Manpreet Singh's cross from the left flank was met by Dilpreet Singh in the near post but the Canadian goalkeeper Antoni Kindler positioned himself at the right spot to thwart the danger. In the next minute, India got their first penalty corner but Canada defended stoutly. Mandeep Singh was then denied by a good reflex save by the Canada keeper.
Canada goalkeeper Kindler came to his side's rescue twice in the second quarter to keep the scoreline under check. First Kindler saved Sumit's reverse shot from top of the box in the 22nd minute and then kept away Akashdeep Singh's attempt after he was set up by Simranjeet Singh's burst from 25 yards. The script, however, changed a little bit after the change of ends with Canada slowly clawing back into the match with some impressive counter-attacks.
(With PTI inputs)