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12-12-2009, 12:48 AM #1
Champions Challenge: India to meet Pakistan in semis
India scored a thrilling 4-2 win over Belgium in their last pool match and set up a semifinal clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament here.
India scored through Dhananjay Mahadik (19th minute), Shivendra Singh (30), Tushar Khandker (48) and Prabhjot Singh (70).
Jerome Dekeyser (24 min) and Renaud Pangrazio (25) gave Belgium a 2-1 lead before India struck back.
The victory Thursday took India to the top of pool A with seven points. They will meet Pakistan, which came second in pool B after thrashing South Africa 4-1 in their last match.
The other semifinal will be between pool B toppers Argentina and New Zealand which finished second to India in pool A.
The winner of the tournament qualifies for the Champions Trophy next July in Moenchengladbach, Germany.
Both India and Belgium were in with a chance to qualify for the semifinals. India though would have been through with a draw. They churned out an exciting fare and were locked 2-2 at halftime.
The match began with both teams playing an attacking game and creating chances. India got a penalty corner early but shot wide.
India, however, controlled most of the play, with Shivendra and Prabhjot keeping the Belgian defense busy.
Prabhjot had a great opportunity after stealing a ball from Xavier Reckinger in deep defense but his shot went wide.
India opened the scoring when Mahadik scored through a penalty corner. They could have doubled their tally a few minutes later on another penalty corner, but the initial shot was saved and Rajpal could not negotiate the rebound.
Belgium showed urgency and after crashing a penalty corner on the post found the equaliser through a penalty stroke by Jerome Dekeyser.
A minute later Belgium got the lead through Renaud Pangrazio's field goal.
India pulled one back through Shivendra, who was left unmarked on the far post for an easy deflection.
After an exciting half of hockey, the two teams went for the break at 2-2.
India missed a chance to break the deadlock early in second half wasting a penalty corner. The game was played in a high tempo and continued to sway back and forth.
Khandekar scored in the 48th minute to hand India a 3-2 lead.
Belgium then launched a series of forays but Indian defense stood solid and goalkeeper Adrian D'souza made some good saves.
Prabhjot added one more to India's tally to make it 4-2.
In other matches, New Zealand and China played out a 2-2 draw while Canada beat Argentina 3-2.
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