India register third win on trot

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Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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In a match dominated by midfield play, India showed enterprise to carve out an impressive 3-0 victory over Spain and top Pool C after the completion of league engagements in the 7th Junior World Cup hockey championship here today. The scorers in India's third consecutive win were Jugraj Singh (6th minute), Deepak Thakur (41st) and skipper Gagan Ajit Singh (50th). India now play the second-placed team of Pool D which in all probability should be Argentina who according to form should beat New Zealand in their last match and finish second to Germany in their pool. In case, the Kiwis pull off an upset, then India will play New Zealand. In the other matches, Scotland beat Canada 3-1 and Ireland beat Chile with the same margin of goals. The match between England and Australia was still in progress. Though it was an evenly-matched game today, the Indians proved their superiority, picking up their chances and scoring while fortifying their defence against Spain who could not penetrate either during field play or even when they had penalty corners. India got their first chance in the 6th minute, when Gagan Ajit Singh was blocked in the circle and the resultant penalty corner was flicked into the left corner of the net by Jugraj Singh. With the rain falling slightly, Spain tried to gain possession in the midfield and succeeded to a large extent but were held back by the Indian defence. Spain earned their first penalty corner in the 10th minute but the effort was wasted, however, not before Indian 'keeper Devesh Chauhan had been shown the green card for time wasting. At the break, India led 1-0. As the rain continued to fall, Deepak Thakur playing strongly in the Spanish circle, sharply cut in, striking into the right corner of the goal, just out of reach of the Spanish goalkeeper. It was India's second and Deepak's sixth goal of the tournament. After Viren Rasquinha had been given a green card in the 41st minute, India struck for the third time and this time through skipper Gagan Ajit Singh. After a cross from the left, Gagan trapped neatly and with a strong strike scored his first goal of the tournament. With India leading 3-0, the midfield fell back a little, defending against the moves of the Spanish who were a little desperate now to gain possession of the ball. In the very next minute, came Spain's third penalty corner which India successfully defended but lost Jugraj Singh to an ankle injury. Jugraj was carried away on a stretcher. India had two consecutive penalty corners in the 54th minute but with Jugraj off the field, both were wasted. Spain earned their fourth penalty corner which the Indians defended admirably. In the process, Spain's Alberto Esteban and Viren Rasquinha were engaged in a severe body tackle and the umpires showed them the yellow card. Viren, earlier in the match, had a green card. Spain rushed things a bit towards the end with two penalty corners but the Indian defence hung in. Coach Rajinder Singh was happy that India had achieved their first target, that of topping the Pool. "Now we enter the competition where we will meet better teams and now the boys' skills and mental strength will play a part in reaching the last four, which is our next target." On the injury to Jugraj, Rajinder Singh said, "it isn't a severe one but he will checked by a doctor and with a day's rest in between the next match, he should be able to recover". Skipper Gagan Ajit Singh was happy that he scored his first goal of the tournament. "I was getting a little worried as I had not scored but I hope this goal enables me to get more in the tougher matches ahead." (PTI)

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