India brush Russia aside to secure Tokyo qualification

Lalit Upadhyay (centre) celebrates scoring India's first goal against Russia in the second leg. Hockey India

BHUBANESWAR -- The Indian men's hockey team secured qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a 7-1 win over Russia in the second game of the two-legged tie at Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium on Saturday. India won the tie 11-3 on aggregate, thanks to Friday's 4-2 win in the first leg.

The men join the women's team, who managed to qualify for back-to-back Olympics for the first time with a 6-5 aggregate win that came despite USA winning the second leg 4-1.

While Mandeep Singh scored a brace for India on Friday, it was Akashdeep Singh and Rupinder Singh who did the same for the hosts in the second leg. Alexey Sobolevskiy scored for Russia within the first minute to reduce India's lead to 4-3 on aggregate. India equalised in the second quarter through Lalit Upadhyay, who deflected the ball into the goal to score in his 100th international game. Not long afterwards, Akashdeep Singh scored after a penalty corner to give India the lead, which he then doubled a minute before halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter in which both teams missed opportunities, India extended their lead early in the final quarter through Nilakanta Sharma, who hit a powerful shot into the top-left corner of the goal.

India's final three goals were all scored through penalty corners. A minute after Nilakanta's goal, Rupinder Singh converted a penalty corner. He scored another with a minute left to play and, in the final minute, Amit Rohidas converted again to complete India's dominant win.