The Indian hockey team drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in their final pool match of the Champions Trophy in Breda on Saturday, to set up a title clash with Australia.
After Argentina had beaten Australia 3-2 to climb to third spot, India just needed a draw to reach eight points and advance from the pool stage. They did the job after keeping the Netherlands’ pressure at bay.
Mandeep Singh scored India’s lone goal in the 47th minute against a strong Netherlands side. The Netherlands equalised through Thierry Brinkman in the 55th minute but it was not enough.
The start was positive for India as they kept high ball possession and earned a penalty corner in the third minute. But goalkeeper Sam van der Ven was alert enough.
Undeterred by the development, Harmanpreet Singh and Mandeep and put Netherlands under pressure. India won another penalty corner in the 13th minute but could not score.
Though Netherlands kept increasing pressure India somehow withstood the attacks as the match stayed goalless till the half-time.
The deadlock was broken by Mandeep in the third quarter as he scored off a rebound from Harmanpreet’s drag-flick and finishes into the top-left.
Netherlands did not take it long to restore parity as in the 55th minute Brinkman beat Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh to score from close range.
The Indian defenders were feeling the pressure as Netherlands, who needed a win to progress, pressed hard.
They even had a goal disallowed in the 58th minute after referral. They won three penalty corners in three minutes but could not score as Indian defenders stood solid. As the referee blew the final whistle, the Indian players celebrated with clenched fists after entering their second straight Champions Trophy final.