ANTWERP - India’s Ramandeep Singh and Greenshirts’ captain Muhammad Imran both bagged doubles in a classic Pakistan-India derby match that finished 2-2, giving both sides a share of the spoils on Day 6 at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals. The result moved India onto seven points in Pool A with Pakistan up to four points, enough to guarantee their place in the cross-over quarter-finals.

In a match described as the “best of the tournament” by Pakistan Head Coach Shahnaz Sheikh in the post-game press conference, India took an early lead when Ramandeep dived in at the back post to deflect home in the 13th minute before Pakistan’s veteran defender Imran buried a second quarter penalty stroke to restore parity.

Imran hit the target again shortly after half time with a penalty corner drag-flick rocket to put Pakistan ahead before a smart turn and shot on the backhand from Indian ace Ramandeep completed the match scoring in front of a large, passionate contingent of fans that cheered on both nations throughout.

"They are always exciting games for everyone”, said India captain Sardar Singh after the game. “Both teams played a good match, but it was lucky for us to get a draw. A lot of Indian fans were looking forward to this game and I hope they enjoyed what they saw." On being unbeaten so far he added: "We're just taking it one match at a time. Our next game is against Australia and I hope we will do better."

Pakistan captain M Imran said: "I'm very happy. Although it was a draw we played a very good game and we could have won it. It's a pool match and we are looking forward. We'll look at the mistakes we made in this match but in the end I am happy with the performance of my team." He continued: "It's exciting - I got two goals which gives me confidence going into the next matches."

Belgium’s Red Lions have moved to the summit of Pool B after winning their top of the table clash with Malaysia in front of a big home crowd. Belgium remained unbeaten in the pool with two wins and a draw from the three matches that they have played so far and very much have destiny in their own hands. Three points from this Sunday’s meeting with Ireland would guarantee a first place finish in Pool B, meaning that they would face the fourth ranked team in Pool A in the cross-over quarter-finals.

The first two quarters of the match between two hugely gifted, skilful teams were cagey, although the home favourites certainly had the better of the goal-scoring chances. Two exhilarating minutes in the third quarter sparked the game into life, with Dorian Thiery netting the first by following up a well saved strike from AmauryKeusters before Simon Gougnard volleyed home a second a minute later to complete the scoring.

“It was very difficult as Malaysia are in good shape in this tournament and they made life difficult in the first half, but we came back in the game and dominated after half time”, said Red Lions captain John-John Dohmen after the match. “Now we want to finish the pool in first place.”

Alan Sothern scored a hat-trick as Ireland’s Green Machine secured their place in the quarter-final phase with a high quality Pool B victory over China. Sothern hit a quick-fire double in the 19th minute before completing his hat-trick three minutes after half time, with Peter Caruth, Ronan Gormley and Stephen Dowds also in target for the Europeans. The result moved the Irishmen onto four points, with China’s defeat meaning that they are now certain to feature in the 9-10 Classification match. Although Ireland’s place in the cross-over quarter-finals is now secure, they will now switch their attentions to their final Pool B match against host nation Belgium, which takes place on Sunday. The result of that contest could prove to be crucial as to where Ireland finish in the Pool standings, which in turn will make a difference as to who they will face in the quarter-finals.

“The guys settled down and dominated some phases nicely”, said a satisfied Ireland Head Coach Craig Fulton after the game. “We know they like to play a high sweeper and going man for man at the back. It means they try and intercept high up the pitch so we had to be a bit more and patient and then try and move them about and it worked.”

Ireland goalkeeper David Harte, who was injured in an on-field collision and received treatment before being taken to hospital for assessment as a precautionary measure, has been released and is making a recovery.

Results

Pakistan 2-2 India

Belgium 2-0 Malaysia

Ireland 6-0 China