Antwerp (Belgium), June 20:
Hosts Belgium secured a 1-0 win over India in their opening Pool B match of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final (Women’s) here on Saturday courtesy of a strike from skipper Liselotte van Lindt.
Van Lindt latched onto a free ball and powered it home after a barrage of shots were blocked by the Indian goalkeeper Savita Punia in the 35th minute of the game after the home team was awarded a penalty corner.
Egged on by their vocal supporters, Belgium started on brighter note and thought they were a goal up in the first quarter as Emma Puvrez put the ball in the net.
However, the Indians were quick to ask for a video referral which saw the goal being overturned. The Asian giants then stepped on the gas to give the rivals a few scares but both sides could not score before halftime.
The deadlock was finally broken five minutes after the break, with the goal going the way of the home team as van Lindt slotted the ball home easily after Punia had made two very good saves.
The visitors would have equalised moments later were it not for a brilliant goal-line clearance from Stephanie de Groof, who showed lighting reflexes to clear the danger. It proved to be a crucial moment, with Belgium controlling the final stages to take the win.
“I think in the first half we played with too much stress, we were feeling the pressure to perform in front of the home crowd,” said De Groof after the match.
“We dominated in the in the second half, and we knew that we didn’t need to win the match by lots of goals – it was just about making sure we won.”
Referring to her stunning goal-line clearance, she said: “I don’t know if I could do it again! It was just a reaction, but I know it was a big moment for us.”
India next play New Zealand on June 23. (IANS)