Bhubaneswar, India: Host nation India stunned Belgium in a thrilling quarterfinal match to enter their second ever semi-final of the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneshwar on Wednesday. Notably, India defeated Belgium by 3-2 in the thrilling quarterfinal match that was decided by penalty shootout round.
The match ended 3-3 in the stipulated time and moved to a shootout and there too, the teams ended on an even keel at 2-2. However, the result was then decided by goalkeeper Akash Chikte denying Belgium after Harmanpreet Singh scored the goal what in the end turned out to be the winner.
India started off very slowly and steadily but Gurjant Singh in the 31st minute, Harmanpreet Singh in the 35th minute and Rupinderpal Singh in the 46th minute scored a goal for India. On the other side, doing a strong comeback Belgium also scored three goals immediately to draw the match. Belgium's goals came from the sticks of Loick Luypaert in 39th and 46th minute and Amaury Keusters 53rd minute.
But Chikte, who gave his place to young Suraj Karkera in the match and was brought into action in the 47th minute, stood up to his coach's faith and produced four brilliant saves in the shoot-out that went to sudden death to seal a famous win for India.
In the shootout round, Lalit Upadhyay, Rupinder and Harmanpreet scored for India. India's semi-final opponent will be decided after the conclusion of Thursday's remaining two quarterfinals. The Indian Men's team had finished the group stage at the bottom of Pool-B with 2 defeats and a draw from 3 games. It drew with world champions Australia, before losing to England and Germany. Belgium, on the other hand, topped Pool-A with wins in all the 3 matches. In the other quarter-final, Australia thrashed Spain 4-1.