India beat Chile 4-1 in Olympic hockey qualifiers

March 9th, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by admin  

Santiago, March 9 (IANS) India scorched the turf with a fast-paced game to beat hosts Chile 4-1 in the hockey qualifiers and set-up a summit showdown with Great Britain for a place in the Beijing Olympics. India, who lost their league encounter against Great Britain, cannot afford another lapse Sunday, as only the winner will qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

With their place in the finals sealed after Great Britain beat Austria 4-0 in another league encounter, India went for the kill against Chile in front of home spectators who vociferously cheered for their team despite their disappointing three defeats in the competition.

For India, drag-flick specialist V. Raghunath scored two goals (23rd minute, 61st), to increase his tournament tally to 10. Prabhjot Singh (9th) and Bharat Chhikara (23rd) scored one each at the Prince of Wales Country Club here.

Felipe Montegu converted a penalty corner for the home side in the 63rd minute.

India played attacking hockey right from the start and immediately besieged the Chilean defence, but goalkeeper Mauro Scaff made some stellar saves.

Prabhjot Singh opened the scoring in the 9th minute with a field goal. But it took India a long time before scoring again. They finally managed two goals in quick succession, first by Raghunath benefiting from a defensive deflection in their own goal, then a superb move concluded by Bharath hitting a shot at full speed that gave no chance to the goalkeeper and put India 3-0 up.

Chile played their best hockey of the week in the second half, keeping their opponent at bay and building some good attacking moves. The two teams were reduced to ten players for a while.

Raghunath struck again on a penalty-corner, increasing his lead in the top scorers table.

Chile were finally rewarded when Montegu converted a penalty-corner, triggering loud cheers from the crowd. The hosts will meet Mexico to settle the 5th-6th spot.

In the other league matches, Great Britain defeated Austria 4-0 and Russia pounded a hapless Mexico 9-1. Austria’s hopes of making it to the finals were dashed and they will now meet Russia for 3rd-4th place.

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