Christopher Zeller's goal in the last minute dashed India's hopes of a point that was there for the taking against defending champions Germany in their opening match of the men's hockey World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, on Wednesday.
Zeller, who had put the Germans ahead in the 26th minute, scored a minute from time after Shivendra Singh had rallied the Indians after being twice in arrears to give the hosts a 3-2 victory in the Pool B match.In another match, in Pool A, New Zealand beat Argentina 3-0.Hayden Shaw scored twice with superb drag-flicks from penalty-corners while Simon Child accounted for the other goal.
India, at the receiving end for much of the first half, were a different side in the second session. Despite playing with ten men for eight minutes of the half -- defender Kanwalpreet was given temporary marching orders in the 32nd minute of the first half -- they had the German defence under tremendous pressure with clever off-the-ball running while using the width of the field.
They were rewarded for their perseverance in the 56th minute following the team's second penalty-corner. Shivendra did well to drive the ball home after German goalkeeper Ulrich Bubolz had twice padded shots from Shivendra himself and Halappa.
India's joy was however short-lived as Oliver Hentschel regained the lead for the hosts, scoring from their second penalty-corner, which came much against the run of play in the 58th minute.
Undeterred, the Indians maintained the pressure they had exerted all through the half and drew abreast for the second time in the match when Shivendra finished off a quick one-two with Ignace Tirkey in the 64th minute.
But just when the smile was back on coach Bhaskaran's face, his players paid the price for failing to hold possession. A quick Germany run down the left and a centre into the circle caught the Indian defence laden-footed as Zeller dashed in and deflected the ball home.
In the end, the scoreline was not a true reflection of India's showing in the match.