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FIH Pro League: Harmanpreet's hat-trick hand India 4-3 win over England

Ace dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh scored a hat-trick as the Indian men’s hockey team eked out a narrow 4-3 win over England in the second match of the double-leg FIH Pro League tie on Sunday.

Harmanpreet (26th, 26th, 43rd) sounded the board thrice while Olympic bronze medal-winning skipper Manpreet Singh (15th) scored a goal to help India extend their lead at the top of the standings. England’s goals came from the sticks of Liam Sanford (7th), David Condon (39th) and Sam Ward (44th). Interestingly, all the seven goals in the match were scored from penalty corner opportunities.

England had the better share of possession in the match, but it was India who had the last laugh. India converted four of the eight penalty corners they secured in the match, while England scored from three of their six short corners. Despite inferior ball possession, India had more circle penetrations. The hosts penetrated England’s circle 24 times as against their rivals’ 17.

In terms of shots on goal, India were the better side as they hit their rival goal 10 times, while England had just five shots on the home team’s citadel. After conceding an early goal, India bounced back soon and equalised at the stroke of the first quarter through Manpreet. Harmanpreet scored two goals in succession in the 26th minute to go into the breather with a comfortable 3-1 lead. England did enjoy possession but it was India who controlled the proceedings with more circle penetrations and penalty corners in the first two quarters.

The Indians continued to play high pressure hockey after the change of ends but failed to make any further inroads. England pulled a goal back in the 39th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Condon before Harmanpreet scored his second goal of the day with a low dragflick to the right of the English goalkeeper James Mazarelo to make it 4-2 in favour of India. A minute later England reduced the margin when Ward scored from a set piece, in what has been an exhibition of penalty corner conversions.

Down by a goal, a desperate England came all out attacking in the final quarter and created a few openings but failed to breach the Indian defence. Four minutes from the final hooter, England pulled out their goalkeeper Mazarelo for an extra player but the Indians held firm to pocket full three points from the match.

By virtue of this win, India are sitting pretty at the top of the standings with 21 points from 10 games, while England continued to reel at the seventh spot with seven points from six games. The Indians had earlier defeated England 3-2 in shoot-out after they finished tied at 3-3 in the first game of the tie on Saturday to pocket a bonus point.

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