The Indian men's hockey team played an aggressive game to begin their tour of Europe with a 2-0 victory over France on Monday.
Chinglensana Singh and SV Sunil helped India dominate and kept the European team under pressure. France came back strongly after the third quarter but failed to breach the Indian defence line.
At the start, both teams attacked aggressively in each other's half and tried to score first. After a series of attacks from both sides, midfielder Chinglensana sneaked into French half and hit the ball into the box to score the first goal of the match in the 18th minute.
With the lead, World No 8 India took control of the match and put France under tremendous pressure. India didn't allow the hosts to take control of possession as France struggled in the rest of the quarter.
Captain Sardar Singh, midfielders SK Uthappa, Danish Mujtaba and Devinder Walmiki played some high-level hockey and created quite a few opportunities to keep on their attack. Meanwhile, forwards Sunil, Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh kept on charging towards the French goal.
After continuous attacks, Sunil dribbled past the French defenders and sent the ball into the net for the second goal in the 26th minute. At halftime, India led 2-0.
In the third quarter, the hosts stepped on the gas and surprised India with their quick passes. The French were desperately looking for opportunities to reduce the goal margin, putting some pressure on the Indian defence.
On a few occasions, they came very close to scoring but the Indian defence line restricted their attacks. In the last few minutes of the quarter, France earned a penalty corner, which was successfully thwarted by India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
The fourth quarter saw a closely-fought battle as both teams pushed each other for goals. But it was France who earned two back-to-back penalty corners. Sreejesh stood like a rock and saved both the chances with brilliant moves.
India counter-attacked and tried hard to increase their lead but the match ended with the score at 2-0.
The next match between the two sides will be played on Wednesday at the Wattignies Sports Centre.