Tokyo Olympics: India men's hockey team enters semifinal with 3-1 win over Great Britain
India defeated Great Britain 3-1 in the men's hockey quarter-final to earn a spot in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics. The Manpreet Singh-led side will face off against the 2018 world champions Belgium in the last four on Tuesday. This will be the first Olympic semi-final that India will play in 49 years, since the 1972 Munich Games, in which eight-time champions India had lost to arch-rivals Pakistan.
While India had won the gold medal defeating Spain in the final in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, there were no semi-finals in the tournament due to the absence of many teams who had boycotted the Games. The top two teams from the round-robin stage had competed in the final.
India made the most of the defensive errors from Great Britain early on in the match. A casual effort from the Britain defender allowed Simranjeet Singh to put his stick and steal the ball. He passed it to Dilpreet Singh who was not being covered by anyone and the youngster scored his 2nd goal in Tokyo.
India's second goal came at the start of the second quarter as Indian midfield intercepted a pass from Britain and made a long pass to Gurjant Singh inside the circle. Gurjant picked the ball, twisted, turned, and struck it into the net to double India's lead.
India's defence remained dominant for most of the second and third quarter, as Britain tried to keep possession and put pressure on coach Graham Reid's side. A penalty corner in the final few seconds of the third quarter allowed Sam Ward to get a goal back, pushing India in for a nervy final 15 minutes.
When captain Manpreet Singh was handed a yellow card, and India went one man down, it looked as if Britain might push the match to a shootout. But Hardik Singh produced a moment of brilliance with 3.25 minutes left on the clock, as he scored another goal to extend India's lead to 3-1.
Despite repeated attempts, Britain were unable to get another one in the final three minutes and were eliminated. Indian players indulged in emotional celebrations on the turf, having made it to the semifinals.
It has been a good journey for India men's hockey team in Tokyo Olympics so far, defeating New Zealand 3-2 in their opening group game, and then picking up wins over Germany (2-0), Spain (3-1), Argentina (3-1), and Japan (5-3) in the group matches. Barring the 7-1 defeat against Australia, India have won all their games so far.