John-John Dohman scored a late winner for Belgium, 15 seconds before the final hooter, as India went down against the Red Dragons 3-2, in their opening tie of the Hockey World Cup at The Hague on Saturday.
The match was evenly contested in the opening stages, with no team getting any clear-cut scoring opportunities. Indian defence looked solid against the live Belgium attack and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made a couple of double-saves, mid-way into the first-half.
Sreejesh kept India in the match when he made a string of incredible saves as the Red Dragons started to take control of the game. He also saved a penalty corner by drag flicker Tom Boon.
Florent van Aubel finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when he beat Sreejesh to score from a tight angle and put Belgium in the lead, just before half time.
India made an outstanding comeback in the second half, with Mandeep Singh scoring the equaliser in the 45th minute. Just five minutes later, India stretched their lead to 2-1, with Akashdeep Singh scoring.
Belgium quickly fought their way back into the match when Simon Gougnard evened the scoreline by converting a penalty corner. As the match looked settled for a draw, Dohman's late winner ensured full points to the world number five.
Belgium switched around in the final minutes of the game in an attempt to score the winner, and succeeded when the Indian defence crumbled under the intense pressure mounted on them, with Dohman pushing the ball in to seal the match.
"It a not a very good start for the team and we will have to push ourselves a little more now," Indian skipper Sardar Singh said. "Considering the fact that the team showed tremendous strength and skill in this match, I think we are on the right track and will be working even harder to deliver better results."
Meanwhile, Australia opened their quest with a dominating 4-0 victory over Malaysia in the first match of the day. Malaysia displayed solid defence and counterattacked in the initial stages, before Glenn Turner finally broke the deadlock in the 25th minute.
Eddie Ockenden increased the lead in the 50th minute, when he pierced the Malaysian defence to score a reverse stick shot. Jamie Dwyer was the next to score two minutes later and Ockenden scored his second goal in 54th minute to seal the match.
In the third game of the day, England and Spain played out a 1-1 draw as both teams missed a host of scoring opportunities.
Alastair Brogdon slammed one past Spanish goalkeeper Quico Cortes in sixth minute to put England in lead. Eduard Tubau scored the equaliser, thanks to a video referral in the second half. No team managed to score the winner and failed to earn the full three points.
Find Belgium vs India Highlights Information HERE.
Find Australia vs Malaysia Highlights Information HERE.
Find England vs Spain Highlights Information HERE.