Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: India men defeat Russia 4-2 in the first leg

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India won the first leg comprehensively

The Indian men’s hockey team defeated Russia by 4-2 in the first leg of Olympic qualifiers played at Kalinga Stadium, Bhuvneshwar on Friday.

Russia got off to a great start in the third minute but the shot was well saved by the Indian goalkeeper P. Sreejesh. 

A penalty stroke was awarded to India after a review and Harmanpreet Singh made it 1-0 in the sixth minute of the game. 

It was a superb start for the visitors as Kuraev levelled the score in the 17th minute as a sloppy pass from Rupinder Pal Singh costed India the goal. 

A brilliant reverse flick shot by Mandeep Singh gave India a 2-1 lead in the 21st minute. Just before the half time, India earned a penalty corner but failed to capitalize on the chance. India led 2-1 at the end of half-time. 

Russia began the third quarter in an attacking move which went wide off the goal post. The visitors played with great confidence and put pressure on the Indian defence but could not covert chances into goals. 

Both teams had chances of scoring goals but failed to make further inroads. At the end of the third quarter India still led 2-1. 

SV Sunil produced a brilliant field goal in the 48th minute to give India 3-1 lead. Mandeep Singh scored his second goal of the match to make it 4-1 in favour of India. 

Russia attacked well in last few minutes of the game but Indian defence was up to the mark. In the 57th minute, India earned a penalty corner but the dragflick was blocked easily. 

Semen Matkovsikly scored a brilliant penalty corner goal in 59th minute to reduce the gap 2-4. It was not a decent performance from the Indian men’s team as they missed a lot of excellent chances to score. 

The Indian men’s and women’s team produced good performances. Both are on the verge of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics in 2020. India and Russia will play their second leg tomorrow. 

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