Rio de Janeiro | A nervy India squandered a one-goal advantage as they allowed Canada to stage a fightback with a late strike and earn a 2-2 draw in their final men’s hockey pool game of the Rio Olympics Games here Friday.
India struck through Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh in the 33rd and 41st minutes respectively, while Scott Tupper scored in the 33rd to help Canada draw level 1-1 and then in the 52nd minute, both times converting the penalty corners, to share honours.
India, who have already qualified for the last eight, thus ended the group phase with two wins, two losses and a draw, accumulating seven points in the process.
Going by form and world rankings, India were the overwhelming favourites against and as expected they started on a bright note.
The Indians created numerous scoring chances but failed to get past the stout Canadian defence led by its goalkeeper David Carter, who made three wonderful saves to deny the PR Sreejesh-led side.
Canada, on the other hand, played deep on their own half and depended mainly on counter attacks.
The Indians had lucky escape on at least two occasions when the Canadians pressed hard from counters.
India dominated the opening two quarters and created their first real scoring chance in the eighth minute but Nikkin Thimmaiah’s reverse hit from close range was blocked by Carter.
Five minutes later, Carter once again came to his side’s rescue by coming off the line to deny Nikkin.
India soon secured their first penalty corner but VR Raghunath’s effort was blocked by a charging defender.
Canada then had the best opportunity to take the lead from a counter attack when an unmarked Matthew Guest found himself in one-on-one situation with Sreejesh but his reverse hit just went wide of the goal, much to the relief of the Indians.
India’s best came in the 18th minute when Manpreet Singh and SK Uthappa combined well to enter the Canadian circle but once again Carter came in between India and a goal when he brilliantly saved the former’s reverse shot.
Minutes later, India were dealt a big blow when SV Sunil was stretchered off the pitch after he sustained an injury by crashing against the sign boards while pressing for an attack.
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