The Indian men’s hockey team’s habit of conceding late goals continued to haunt it as reigning double Olympic champion Germany scored seconds from the final hooter to steal a 2-1 win in a thrilling Pool B match here on Monday.
It was heartbreak for the Indian fans as their side, despite playing near-perfect hockey for a major part of the contest, conceded a goal with just 3.1 seconds left.
After weathering India’s onslaught for the majority of the game, the Germans exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian defence in the final few minutes.
The Indian defence, which had a good match and stood firm right through, fumbled in the final seconds as Christopher Ruhr scored the winner for Germany with a deflection from close range to dash the hopes of the Sreejesh-led side.
Earlier, Germany had taken the lead against the run of play through a field goal from Niklas Wellen (18th minute) before Rupinder Pal Singh (23rd) drew parity for India, converting his third penalty corner of the Games. The win helped Germany keep its successful run against India. The last time the latter defeated Germany in the Olympics was way back in the Atlanta Games when it secured a 3-0 victory.
However, despite the loss, the Indians can take heart from the fact that they dished out a much better display against Germany than what they have managed in the recent past, including a 3-3 draw against a depleted German side in the Champions Trophy in London and a 0-4 thrashing in Valencia prior to the Olympics.
It was a close encounter between the two sides in the first two quarters, with both teams showcasing good attacking and defending skills.
The Indians had the better share of exchanges in the first quarter and even put the opposition under pressure midway through the first quarter, but the German defence averted any crisis.
It was India which had the first scoring chance, in the 11th minute, but Nikkin Thimmaiah’s backhander off a pass from Akashdeep Singh was padded away by an alert Nicolas Jacobi in front of the German goal.