Bhuvaneshwar–India demolished Canada 5-1 in their last Pool C match to earn a direct quarter-final berth at the men’s hockey World Cup here on Saturday.
With this result, India topped their pool with seven points from three matches. Only the group winners are get direct entry into the quarter-finals in this edition of the World Cup.
Harmanpreet Singh (12th minute), Chinglensana Singh (46th), Lalit Upadhyay (47th, 57th), Amit Rohidas (51st) scored for India.
Floris van Son had given Canada a glimmer of hope with an excellently created equaliser in the 39th minute.
European giants Belgium, who had thrashed South Africa 5-1 in the day’s other Pool C match earlier in the evening also finished the group stage with seven points from their full quota of three matches.
But India took the top spot in Pool C thanks to a superior goal difference.
Belgium, who finished second in Pool C, will have to go through an extra knock-out round to earn their tickets into the last eight stage.
Canada and South Africa finished their group campaign with just one point each. The Canadians took the third spot thanks to a better goal difference and will face the second placed team of Pool D in the pre-quarterfinals. The South Africans have been eliminated.
Despite the extremely one-sided final scoreline, the Canadians had given an extremely good account of themselves for most of the match.
Up against the much stronger Indian team whose every action was loudly cheered by the partisan local crowd, the Canadians put up a stubborn, disciplined performance and frustrated the hosts for the first three quarters.
But the Indians blew away their opponents in the final quarter to claim waht eventually turned out to be a one-sided affair.
The Indians dominated the opening quarter put pressure on the Canadian defence right from the start. They made their domination count when Harmanpreet powered home a penalty corner to give India the lead.
Despite falling behind, Canada played better in the second period. They allowed very few clear chances to the hosts and also created several scoring chances.
The north Americans were rewarded for their fighting spirit midway through the third quarter when a fast counter-attack caught the Indian defence off-guard and an unmarked Floris van Son scored the equaliser with a well-placed finish.
The Indians however, wrested the advantage with two goals in as many minutes right at the start of the final quarter as Chinglensana and Lalit scored back to back field goals.
Amit Rohidas converted a penalty corner to hammer home India’s advantage before Lalit scored his second in the closing stages to round off an excellent outing for India.
Earlier, Belgium thrashed South Africa 5-1 in their last Pool C match. The European giants dominated right from the start and simply blew away their opponents with a four-goal blitz in the first two quarters.
Ironically, it were the South Africans who had the more promising start as Nick Spooner scored a field goal in the opening minutes to raise visions of an upset.
But Belgium fought back and restored parity through a penalty corner conversion by Alexendar Hendricks in the 12th minute.
The Belgians took the lead six minutes later when Arthur Van Doren and Loïck Luypaert created an excellent move from their own half before a long ball found Simon Gougnard who beat South African goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse with a calm finish.
Hendricks completed his brace off another penalty corner in the 21st minute as the Europeans tightened their grip on the match.
Luypaert scored Belgium’s fourth goal a few seconds before half-time as the title contenders from Europe went into the break with a formidable advantage.
Belgium continued to dominate after half-time. Cedric Charlier completed the rout with a field goal in the 48th minute off a pass from Gougnard. (IANS)