India edge past Great Britain 2-1 in Hockey Champions Trophy

London, June 12 (ANI): Two quick goals scored in the beginning of the second and the third quarter were enough to ensure India win their first game of the Champions Trophy by outclassing the hosts Great Britain 2-1 here on Saturday. PR Sreejesh, who was making his 150th appearance for India, was called into action early on, first to deny Great Britain through two penalty corners in the opening minutes, and then marshalling his defence to stop Britain’s attack from causing the damage early on.

Great Britain held most of the possession and pressed India back into their half, but were unable to break the deadlock. The two teams went into the first break with the game goalless. India were the first to break through in the second quarter. SV Sunil and Mandeep Singh combined to strike an opener. Sunil ran in from the right of the circle and drove hard to the baseline, before crossing back to Mandeep who tapped the ball in to give his side with a 1-0 lead aginst Britain. After the goal, the play settled down into a pattern.

Great Britain played more passes, India covered more turf. India had their first penalty corner in the third minute of the second half, but Raghunath’s low flick to the left was saved by George Pinner. In the aftermath of the save though a foul won India another penalty corner. Raghunath drove to the opposite side, with height only to be denied by Barry Middleton on the line. Unconvinced India asked for the referral and were rewarded with a stroke. Harmanpreet Singh then struck a goal from the spot to double India’s lead. A minute later though, Great Britain won a penalty corner, and Ashley Jackson made no mistake, unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner past Sreejesh to reduce the deficit to one.

With five minutes left, Manpreet was awarded a green card, and almost immediately Great Britain made the main advantage count, Sam Ward missing from point-blank range. India held firm in defence and went into the final break in the lead. The final quarter was played at a frantic pace, as both teams ran at each other furiously, the play direct and often breathtaking. Ward missed a chance to equalise, just before Mandeep missed one to double India’s lead. Great Britain had a final chance via a penalty corner in the 57th minute, but Surender Kumar cleared off the line to ensure that they took home the points.

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