Madrid, June 12 (IANS) India's junior men's hockey team lost a hard fought game 2-3 to the Netherlands in their group stage encounter at the 8-Nations U-21 Invitational campaign.
In a cagey first quarter on Tuesday, it was the Netherlands who snatched the initiative early with Jim van de Venne scoring in the 5th minute to give them the lead. Despite the early setback, India did not drop their game plan and were constantly on the attack looking for an equaliser. The teams went into the break separated by the single goal.
The game took off in the second quarter, with both teams attacking with vigour and their defensive qualities being pushed to the brink.
It was India who scored first, Vishnukant Singh getting the equaliser in the 23rd minute at the end of a brilliant move. Within three minutes though, the Netherlands had restored their lead with van de Venne converting a penalty corner to get his second goal of the game. The teams went into half-time with Netherlands leading 2-1.
The play started from where it left off in the second quarter, with both sides' intensity and high speed play producing some great hockey for the eyes. Derck de Vilder's goal in the 32nd minute extended Netherlands' lead and gave them a two-goal cushion.
India, though, did not let their shoulders drop and kept the pressure up. Their play yielded results soon. Koen Bijen picked up a green card in the 36th minute, leaving the Netherlands a player short on the field, and India capitalised on the advantage almost immediately.
Sudeep Chirmako capped off a superb move to reduce the deficit to one goal in the 37th minute. The teams went into the break with the Netherlands leading 3-2.
India went into the final quarter with the knowledge that an equaliser early in the period would be crucial. They attacked with gusto throughout the period but the Dutch defence was more than up to the task, and despite a Valentijn Charbon yellow card in the final minute, ensured they took home the victory.