India and Netherlands played out another close game of hockey under a scorching sun in Bhubaneswar, with 60 minutes proving inadequate to separate the two sides, requiring a shoot-out; where the young Dutch team finally got the better of their experienced Indian counterparts.

Hockey, FIH Pro League as it happened: Netherlands clinch shootout bonus point after 1-1 draw

The match started off with a complete turnaround of fortunes for India, who had to endure a lot of pressure on their goal in the first quarter last evening. It took them a total of 34 seconds to get their first goal today, as their attack from the starting whistle led to a penalty corner that was deflected by a Dutch defender and then turned in by Rajwinder in front of the goal. It was a perfect start for India, and not what Netherlands were looking for after a close loss in the previous game. India, confident from the goal, took control of the game and their high press turned the ball over, often in the Dutch half.

Netherlands finally found their feet in the game at around the 12-minute mark and they forced the Indian team to retreat into their own half as the first quarter came to a close. Second quarter again saw momentum swing India’s way to begin with, as they won the mid-field battle, cutting off the passing lanes that Netherlands like to use to build their attacks, but with the conditions taking their toll, Netherlands finally started getting the better of India to close the first half and forced Savita into three saves in the final 2 minutes, but she was up to the challenge and India took the 1 goal lead into the half.

The half time break was exactly the momentum breaker India needed and they started the second half on the front foot. Jyoti and Monika both were recipients of chances after some great work by the Indian mid field and attack to set up scoring opportunities coming from their left wing. But while Jyoti’s effort was saved well by Remmerswaal, Monika couldn’t get the connection she wanted on a bouncing ball, and Netherlands survived the early pressure.

For Netherlands, it felt like a repeat of last evening as they piled up a whole host of circle entries, but each time it amounted to very little, as the Indian defence made sure it didn’t leave any passing lanes open for the Dutch strikers to make the final pass that would open up opportunities to score.

The 4th quarter however saw the match swing again as Netherlands, desperate for an equalizer, started instituting a high press of their own. They finally managed to hassle and harry the Indian defence into conceding possession in their own half, and it led to a slew of penalty corners for the Dutch, as the Indian defence started showing signs of fatigue.

Savita though kept the Indian lead intact with save after save from the penalty corners, but the Dutch were unrelenting. They finally got a goal back through captain Yibbi Jansen in the 54th minute, who finally got a lot of power behind one of her flicks and Savita couldn’t react in time to stop the ball sailing over her right shoulder.

India had an instant opportunity to strike back though as they won a penalty corner of their own from the restart, and Gurjit, who had also been having trouble getting power behind her drag flicks, finally got one flying towards the Dutch goal, but the shot that looked destined to restore India’s lead, hit the post and Netherlands breathed a sigh of relief.

The regular time expired without either team creating a big opportunity and the teams headed for a shoot-out. Netherlands went first and scored through Jansen who calmly slotted a second shot in after Savita had saved the first one. Jyoti and Neha missed the first two shoot-out attempts for India, while Fortuin scored the 2nd attempt as well for Netherlands, leaving India with a mountain to climb.

Savita tried her best, saving Morgenstern’s shoot-out attempt and Navneet followed it up with a calmly taken goal of her own. But Barentsen scored the 4th attempt for Netherlands and another great save by Remmerswaal from Rajwinder’s attempt sealed India’s fate as Netherlands took the extra point from the contest.

Marente Barentsen won the player of the match and spoke of the learnings the young Dutch team took from the two matches saying: “It was a tough loss yesterday, but we had created chances and it was the same today. So happy that as a young team we could improve and get a better result today.”

Indian captain Savita wasn’t too disappointed with the result, saying: “Shoot-outs are a bit of a coin toss, and Netherlands were very clinical in their attempts today. Overall, the draw in regular time felt about right, because while we started well Netherlands were really attacking in the end so the draw was a fair result.”

FIH Hockey Pro League action will continue in Bhubaneswar next week as Indian men take on Germany on the 14th and 15th of April.