India wasted as many as five penalty corners seconds from the final hooter to go down 1-2 against reigning silver medallist Netherlands and slumped to their second defeat in the men’s hockey competition of Rio Olympics here on Thursday.
Netherlands scored both their goals from penalty corners through Rogier Hoffman (32nd minute) and Mink van der Weerden (54th), while India’s lone goal came from the stick of VR Raghunath (38th).
But the match witnessed intense drama in the final seconds as India did not bow out without a fight against the world ranked 2nd side.
Trailing 1-2 with four minutes left, India withdrew goalkeeper PR Sreejesh for an additional forward and pressed hard for the equaliser.
Their efforts bore fruit as India earned their fourth penalty corner six seconds from the hooter after appealing for a video referral.
That penalty corner resulted in four more back-to-back short corners but the Indian dragflick battery
of Rupinder Pal Singh, who took four tries, and Raghunath failed to break the Dutch defence led by goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann.
The Men in Blue, thus, suffered another heart-breaking defeat after the late loss to reigning Olympic champions Germany in their second Pool B game. A draw against Netherlands on Thursday would have sealed India’s place in the quarterfinals. But they now will have to wait for the result of their last pool encounter against Canada on Friday.
India are now placed third in Pool B with six points behind leaders Netherlands (10) and Germany (9). Argentina are placed fourth with four points. It was a quiet first two quarters from India as well as Netherlands as both the teams preferred to play it safe, concetrating more on holding possession of the ball.
India, though, enjoyed the better share of possession in the opening 15 minutes but they failed to create any scoring chances. The Dutch, on the other hand, preferred to sit back and get a hold of India’s game and relied mostly on counters but, just like their opponents, failed to have a shot at the goal.
The action was a little more in the second quarter as Netherlands slowly and steadily started to put pressure on the Indian defence. But the Indians fought hard till the end and created numerous scoring chances — six penalty corners, five of which came in the final seconds — but they failed to get the back of the Netherlands net to garner a point and secure their place in the quarterfinals.