The Orangemen saw a victory against India slip out of their hands in the final seconds in the Pro League on Saturday. A striking Indian corner in the final signal made it 2-2. The Netherlands then took the shoot-outs better than the Asians, which ultimately resulted in a satisfied feeling and a bonus point. Especially because Jeroen Delmée’s team is only one victory away from winning this edition of the national competition.
It took some getting used to after so many good results in a row. After twelve matches without defeat, the Orange clattered from its pink cloud last week. Suddenly Jeroen Delmée’s team was also vulnerable. Corners were given away, serious covering errors were made and the pace could not be kept up. The result: three goals in a quarter and a 4-1 defeat. The first in the post-Tokyo era.
Fortunately, the month of June is packed with international matches, so that revenge could be taken quickly. India came to visit on Saturday. Another quality opponent. The number three of the Olympic Games and of the current Pro League. Definitely a medal contender for the World Cup in his own country, in January. Moreover, a team, of which the Netherlands has not won the last three times.
Near World Goal
As if that wasn’t enough, it was also sweltering hot in Rotterdam this afternoon. The temperature was approaching thirty degrees. Initially, there was little to notice with Orange. The start was excellent for the home team. After just two minutes, Thijs van Dam was close to a ‘near world goal’ when he tapped a high ball over his head next to the goal.
That high ball came from the stick of Tijmen Reijenga, who in the tenth minute crowned that fine initial phase with a goal. De Brabander received the ball on the back line by Derck de Vilder, sneaked in, outplayed two men and placed the score: 1-0.
India subsequently asserted itself more and more emphatically. The handy Asians won more and more duels and regularly slipped into the circle. The Netherlands survived the first three corners, but got the 1-1 right after that. Tiny cloth for the bleeding: it was a very nice one. A tip behind the back from Dilpreet Singh. A ball that completely surprised Orange goalie Pirmin Blaak.
The Netherlands picked up the thread well after the break. Within seven minutes, Delmée’s men forced three penalty corners and two whole chances (Van Dam, De Vilder). However, unfortunately for the hosts, they all had the same result: goals did not yield all those opportunities. That had to do with a portion of bad luck, but also certainly with accuracy. For example, two of the three corners were not stopped properly.
The Orange squad put an end to that series of carelessness thirteen minutes before the end. Quarter four had barely started when Steijn van Heijningen sent Koen Bijen deep, with a gem of a through ball. The Bossche attacker used his body cleverly and pushed out of the turn, shoot-out-like: 2-1. It was already the fifth goal of this summer for the striker, who made his debut under Delmée.
That seemed to be it. Until the last minute, in which India got three corners. Number one survived. Number two too. But at attempt number three, the Orange went for the ax of cornerman Harmanpreet Singh: that not only resulted in the 2-2, but also led to a shoot-out series.
So the match got a tail that the Netherlands was not waiting for at all. But the home team did not disappoint in eight seconds in one-on-one matches. The Orangemen used all their four attempts and Blaak stopped two, so they left the field with a grin.
Three points needed to win Pro League
The bonus point gained extra value because Belgium took only one point against England later in the day. This gives the Netherlands a point ahead of the Olympic champion of Tokyo, who has only one game left to play in this edition of the Pro League. The Orange squad has three more games to go.
Long story short: the Netherlands still needs three points to win the Pro League. If India wins in regular time tomorrow, space can be made at the federal office in Utrecht for a new prize.
Netherlands* – India 2-2
10. Tijmen Reijenga 1-0
22. Dilpreet Singh 1-1
47. Koen Bees 2-1
60. Harmanpreet Singh 2-2 (sc)