Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh continued his goal-scoring spree with a brace as the Indian men's hockey team defeated an inexperienced Germany 3-0 in the first match of the two-leg tie to extend its lead in the FIH Pro League standings in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
Harmanpreet converted two penalty corners for India in the 18th and 27th minutes, while Abhishek scored from another set piece in the 45th minute.
With a half a dozen of Germany's 22-member squad making their senior debut here, the vast gap between the two sides was evidently visible. By virtue of this win, India have consolidated their position at the top of the table with 24 points from 11 games, while the Germans are placed second with 17 points from nine matches.
Both teams will lock horns again in the second match of the tie at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday.
The Indians started on a bright note and secured a penalty corner early into the first quarter but Jugraj Singh's effort was kept out by the German defence and Nilakanta Sharma shot wide from the resultant rebound. India enjoyed a lot of possession in the first quarter but the forward line wasn't clinical enough to bury the chances.
India continued in the same vein in the second quarter and took the lead in the 18th minute through Harmanpreet from a penalty corner with a superbly executed drag-flick. India earned another penalty corner soon after but this time German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler denied Harmanpreet.
However, Harmanpreet doubled India's lead three minutes from half time, wrong-footing Stadler from another set piece.
Best snapshots from a stunning win tonight, 14th April, against Germany at FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/2022, being held in Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar!#IndiaKaGame #HockeyIndia #FIHProLeague #HockeyAtItsBest @CMO_Odisha @sports_odisha @IndiaSports @Media_SAI pic.twitter.com/kELCUSVn9C
- Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) April 14, 2022
The Indians kept up the pressure after the change of ends and created plenty of scoring opportunities, though the young German defence stood firm, albeit being guilty of conceding a lot of penalty corners.
And from such an opportunity, Abhishek deflected in Harmanpreet's variation to hand India a comfortable 3-0 lead just at the end of the third quarter.
Minutes into the fourth and final quarter, Germany conceded another penalty corner but this time Stadler kept out Harmanpreet's effort.
The Germans gave a good account of themselves in the final 15 minutes but their tendency to concede penalty corners cost them dearly. The visitors conceded eight penalty corners but failed to secure a single one in the entire 60 minutes.