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India defeats Belgium 2-1 to lift second Junior Hockey World Cup title

India have become the first nation to win the hockey junior World Cup at home. India’s junior hockey team lifted the World Cup for the second time in history as they beat Belgium 2-1 in the final in Lucknow on December 18, 2016. This was India’s first title in 15 years after they won their maiden on back in 2001. India won their first title in 2001 in Hobart, Australia. In 1997, India won silver after losing to Australia in the final in Milton Keynes, England.

The final in Lucknow was dominated by India throughout as they attacked right from the word go. Belgium always looked like playing catch with the Indian team and never created real chances of scoring a goal. India also became the only team besides Germany to win the Junior World Cup more than one time. In 1997, India had finished runners-up, falling in the final against Australia.

Against Belgium, India opened the scoring in the eighth minute through Gurjant Singh, who scored a wonderful reverse stick goal from a steep angle from the left side. India lead 2-0 at half-time after a second goal through Simranjeet Singh who scored his third goal in 22nd minute. India could have made it 4-0 but failed to convert two penalty corners in the first half. Their main drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh was the culprit both times. The second half saw Belgium making inroads in the India area but the home teams defence never allowed to score. The Indian were excellent on the counter but failed to convert even of them.

The full-to-capacity Major Dhyan Chand stadium in Lucknow cheered for their team and didn’t bring down the tempo even once. Belgium first real chance was in the 67th minute when they had only India goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya to beat but the reverse shot was deflected by the goalie with ease. India pressed hard in the final two minutes to get their third goal but the Belgium defence was also good enough to deny them any goal. With just 15 seconds to go on the clock, Belgium was awarded a penalty corner. With the clock expiring as Belgium took the penalty corner, India were assured of a win in the final. Belgium converted the corner but it was only to change the scoreline to 2-1.

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