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India rout Belgium, set-up semi date with Pakistan

India rout Belgium, set-up semi date with Pakistan
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India produced an inspirational performance with a magnificent come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Belgium to set-up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here on Thursday.

It was a fantastic comeback after being down 0-2 within 18th minute courtesy goals from Felix Denayer (12th minute) and Sebastien Dockier (18th). But the hosts, ranked ninth in the world immediately pulled one back in that very minute through Rupinder Pal Singh (18th). SK Uthappa (27th) levelled the proceedings while Akashdeep Singh (41st) and Dharamvir Singh (49th) also scored in one of India’s most famous victory in recent time.

The arch-rivals will meet in the second semi-finals on Saturday. World champions Australia will meet Olympic champions Germany in another last-four match. By virtue of this win, India has also avenged upon their 2-3 defeat against Belgium in this year’s World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands.

India were slow to get off the block as Belgium dominated the first quarter and earned two successive penalty corners inside the first 10 minutes but an alert India custodian PR Sreejesh foiled the second attempt with his out-stretched legs.

Danish Mujtaba missed a golden chance to score for India from the following counter-attack as he hit straight to the Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanash from a Dharamvir Singh pass. Belgium hit India hard minutes later when Denayer’s drag-flick found the back of the net from their third penalty corner. India did not have the best of starts in the second quarter as well three minutes into the quarter Sebastian scored with a lovely touch from Tanguy Cosyns pass.

The Indian defence should only be blamed for the second goal as they did not close down on Cosyns quickly and gave the Belgian forward ample time to find his man.

Pakistan stun Holland 4-2 to reach semifinal
Putting their disappointing pool campaign behind, an inspired Pakistan notched up their first win over the Netherlands in 16 years, stunning the World Cup and Olympic silver medallist 4-2 to reach the semifinals of Champions Trophy tournament on Thursday.

The 4-2 win was Pakistan’s first win over the Dutch in the Champions Trophy in 12 attempts, a run dating back to 1998 edition of the tournament in Lahore. After back-to-back wins in pool stages, the Netherlands slumped to their second straight defeat in the tournament and that too against a lower-ranked side. The Dutch had earlier lost 2-3 against India in their final pool match on Tuesday.

Surprisingly, Pakistan, who returned winless from the pool engagements, looked a completely different side on Thursday as they dominated the mighty Dutch for major part of the match. The Netherlands, on the other hand, looked a pale shadow of themselves as they failed to take control of the match and lacked in discipline. Pakistan also had an impressive record in penalty corners on Thursday as they converted three out of the four set pieces which came their way.
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