Hockey coach Roelant Oltmans’ assertion that there were no grey areas in his team fell flat on Monday as Indian hockey team once again lost nerves in the closing moments of the game and conceded a goal just three seconds from the hooter to lose 1-2 to Germany in their second Pool B game.
Christopher Ruhr made full use of the chaos that prevailed in the Indian defence as he deflected the ball home to give the defending champions their second straight win at the Rio Olympic Games.
It was Niklas Wellen who put Germany ahead in the 18th minute but the lead lasted barely five minutes as Rupinder Pal Singh drew parity, scoring off a penalty corner.
Germany counter followed and they broke the deadlock when Linus Butt set up Wellen near the goal. Wellen made no mistake and dribbled past defender Surender Kumar to slam the ball in India’s net beating goalkeeper PR Sreejesh in the 18th minute.
India rallied back strongly with SV Sunil’s cross found the body of Martin Haner, resulting in a penalty corner. Rupinder provided the equaliser by firing low to German goalkeeper Jacobi’s right.
India had equal share of ball and attack till the end of the second quarter in which they muffed a few chances. Raghunath’s brilliant through ball was well intercepted by Nikkin but he could not beat Jacobi.
In the third quarter, Indians dictated the terms with Danish Mujtaba and Akashdeep Singh proving threatening from the left. They created many chances but their finishing was not up to mark.
Raghunath’s diagonal ball was defended poorly, earning India a penalty corner. This time, Rupinder’s flick was cleared by Jacobi, who then saved the rebound in the 38th minute.
Germany fought back in the first couple of minutes in the final quarter, after Timur Oruz’s free-hit was defended messily. It resulted in a penalty corner but Furste’s flick was dismissed by defender Surender.
India increased the pressure when Sunil was brought down just away from the circle, resulting in a penalty corner. Rupinder again stepped up, only to be denied by the rival defence. Germany mounted several counter attacks but failed to translate them into goals.
However, India lost the match they should not have when in the dying moments they conceded a goal that came as a free-hit from the halfway line. Ruhr, the two-time World Young Player of the Year, deflected the ball home to get his team three full points.
It was the fourth loss for India against Germany in 11 Olympic matches. Overall, it was the 51st loss for eight-time Olympic champions India against the European side in 94 matches.
India will next play Argentina on Tuesday.
With two wins from as many games, Germany lead Pool B with six points, followed by Netherlands (4) and India (3).
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