India pulled off a major upset in the Hockey World League Finals by knocking world no.3 Belgium out of the tournament at the quarterfinal stage. Indian goalkeeper Akash Chitke was the hero, pulling saving four out of six penalties in a nerve-wracking shootout to seal the win for the hosts.
Both teams were locked in a goal-less deadlock at half time, with both teams' defences dominating the game. The hosts attacked with intent, but were denied by a goalkeeper in fine form and a well-drilled defence. On the other hand, India's defence was just as solid, repelling any possible attack from the European team.
India took the lead just one minute into the second half, Gurjant Singh getting on the scoresheet. Rupinder Pal Singh sent India into a shock two-goal lead with a wonderful penalty corner conversion, and the Odisha crowd was celebrating in delight.
Loick Luypaert continued his fine run of scoring in the tournament by pulling one back in the 39th minute, and then levelled up the score in the fourth quarter by scoring a penalty corner. However, India were not finished yet, pulling into the lead yet again with Rupinder grabbing his brace through another penalty corner.
With just seven minutes to go, Cedric Charlier drew Belgium level yet again, and that remained the score till the final hooter. It was a result considered by many as a shock, as Belgium had topped their pool while India finished last in theirs.
In the ensuing penanlty shootout, it was Chitke to the fore as he saved the first three efforts from Belgian players. On the other hand, India scored their second and third attempts after having missed their first, going into a 2-0 lead in the penalty shootout as well.
Belgium then made yet another comeback, scoring their last two penalties as the Indians missed their next two, and the shootout went to sudden death. Harmanpreet Singh, who had missed India's first attempt, made no mistake the second time around. It was left to Chitke to pull off yet another save to send India into the semifinals for only the second time in their history.
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