Tokyo:The Indian men's hockey team played with all their heart and scripted history by clinching an Olympic medal after 41 years with a fantastic 5-4 win over Germany and claiming the bronze in a thrilling play-off match in the ongoing Tokyo Games 2020, here on Thursday.
The last time India won an Olympic medal was in 1980 when they clinched the gold at Moscow Games.
It was Simranjeet Singh (17', 34'), Hardik Singh (27'), Harmanpreet Singh (29'), Rupinder Pal Singh (31') who scored for India while PR Sreejesh came up with some outstanding saves in the dying seconds of a historic win at the Oi Hockey Stadium.
Germany's goals were scored by Timur Oruz (2nd), Niklas Wellen (24th), Benedikt Furk (25th) and Lukas Windfeder (48th).
It is India's third hockey bronze medal in the history of the Olympics. The other two came in 1968 Mexico City and the 1972 Munich Games. Overall, the Indian men’s hockey team has won 12 medals at the Olympics - eight golds, one silver and three bronze.
Earlier in the game, Germany played out the first quarter with incredible pace in their attack and Timur Oruz scored Germany's first goal in the 2nd minute of the match.
India had an opportunity to equalise in the 7th minute when they earned a PC but it was fired away wide from the target by Rupinder Pal Singh. India's goalkeeper Sreejesh, on the other hand, made a brilliant save in the 10th minute when he stopped Mats Grambusch from scoring a field goal to extend Germany's lead.
The second quarter saw a flurry of goals being scored between the two teams. While India equalised in the 17th minute when a brilliant counterattack from India led by Nilakanta Sharma made a delightful pass to Simranjeet Singh who put it past German goalie Alexander Stadler.
It was an important equaliser that put India back in the hunt. But Germany earned back the lead in the 24th minute.
Germany pumped another goal within the next minute when defender Surender Kumar lost the ball to German's double tackle inside the circle. Germany punished India for this error with Benedikt Furk scoring the third goal for Germany taking their lead to 3-1.
India bounced back soon enough with Simranjeet earning a PC in the 27th minute. It was experienced Rupinder Pal Singh taking the flick, and though keeper Stadler made a brilliant save, India's Hardik Singh was quick to take a rebound to successfully put it past the keeper.
Narrowing the German lead to 3-2, India played to their potential by winning another crucial PC in the 29th minute. This time, Harmanpreet Singh does exceedingly well to score his 6th goal of the tournament and fetching a very important 3-3 equaliser for India.
The 10-minute Half-time break was followed by a superb goal for India in the 31st minute through a PC. Germans lost the referral in the process and Rupinder Pal Singh converted a splendid penalty stroke putting India ahead with 4-3 score line.
India scored again in the 34th minute when Harmanpreet Singh was at the heart of a counterattack with his long scoop pass, Gurjant Singh showcased his brilliant stick work making a quick run into the right flank. He entered the circle to set up Simranjeet Singh who completed the attack with a fine deflection.
The third quarter continued to be action packed with both teams trading PCs. But India did well to hold on to the 5-3 lead. The final quarter remained tense with Germany scoring a goal off a PC in the 48th minute. This time it was Windfeder who scored for Germany.
India gave away another opportunity for Germany to score when an early tackle by Sreejesh when Ruhr was going for a shot resulted in India conceding a PC. But Sreejesh made amends for the mistake with an excellent save to keep India in the driver's seat.
The final few minutes was absolutely thrilling with Germany pushing for an equaliser. Germany won their 13th PC with less than 10 secs on the timer but India's defence held on, PR Sreejesh on target to bring home the bronze medal.(UNI)