New Delhi: A nervous India were made to wait until the 69th minute, when a penalty corner after a video referral gave Gurjinder Singh the chance to send home the winner and keep India's chances to reach the quarter-finals alive with a 3-2 win in a Pool C encounter of the 10th Junior Men's Hockey World Cup here on Saturday.
India, who had lost their opening match to Netherlands 3-2, needed either a win or a draw to avoid an early exit. And until the last two minutes, it looked India will have to be content with a draw until skipper Manpreet Singh appealed for an infringement in the Canadian circle. Umpire signalled for a video referral, which proved successful.
The match was played at a brisk pace, largely by India, but they were also guilty of missing numerous chances after Canada surprised them by taking lead with a 3rd-minute strike from captain Sukhi Panesar. India were made to wait for 27 minutes before they could equalise through Mandeep Singh off a PC five minutes before the hooter, which sounded at 1-1.
Same pace and same fruitless nature of Indian attacks continued in the second half. But it was Canada, who, against the run of play, restored their lead in the 57th minute with their first PC of the match.
With less than 20 minutes left on the clock, desperation creeped into Indian attacks, but Akashdeep Singh timed his dive to perfection in the 57th minute to break a dry spell with a neat deflection to make it 2-2. The winning moment, though was reserved for the nervy last two minutes, when India's successful video referral earned them the winning PC.
Canada, who have lost two back-to-back matches, are now out of the tournament. Netherlands and Korea - two other teams in Pool C- played each other earlier on Saturday, with the Dutch securing a 3-2 to win to book their place in the quarters.
India will now take on Korea in the last match of Pool C on Dec 10. While India will have to win the match, a draw should be good enough for Korea to take them through on better goal difference.