FIH Pro League: India concede late to lose 1-2 to Belgium

Action from the FIH Men's Hockey Pro League game between India and Belgium on Friday. Hockey India

India conceded in the final minute of play to lose 1-2 against Olympic champions Belgium in their FIH Men's Hockey Pro League clash on Friday. The Indians will face Great Britian, Netherlands, Argentina, along with Belgium over the next two weeks.

Belgium, ranked second in the world, took the lead in the 18th minute through Thibeau Stockbroekx before the Indians struck back through Mandeep Singh seven minutes later. However, the Indian defence crumbled in the dying minutes of the match as they conceded multiple penalty corners, one of which was converted by Nelson Onana in the 60th minute.

It was India who had the first chance of the game in the fifth minute, but Hardik Singh's effort from the top of the circle was saved. Belgium earned a penalty corner at the very end of the first quarter, but it was defended well by the Indian backline.

Belgium secured back-to-back penalty corners in the 18th minute and Stockbroekx broke the deadlock from the second chance, deflecting in Loïck Luypaert's feed after India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made a double save.

It took India seven minutes to equalise as Mandeep tapped home from a rebound after skipper Harmanpreet Singh's flick from a penalty corner was saved by the Belgian defence. Two minutes into the third quarter Belgium secured another set piece but failed to utilise it.

Belgium had another penalty corner in the 45th minute but the Indians defended in numbers. Four minutes into the final quarter, Belgium earned another set piece and this time Sreejesh came to India's rescue.

India too had a few good chances to take the lead, but Sukhjeet Singh and Gurjant Singh's efforts were saved by the Belgian custodian.

India's defence was unable to deal with Belgium's relentless pressure in the final minute and conceded back-to-back penalty corners, with Onana scoring from a rebound after Sreejesh made the initial save.

India will next take on hosts Great Britain in their second match of the Europe leg of the Pro League here on Saturday.