BHUBANESWAR, Dec 10: India claimed the bronze medal at the Hockey World League (HWL) Final after eking out a close 2-1 win over a depleted but spirited Germany in the third-fourth place classification match here today.
It was always going to be a David vs Goliath task for Germany as they were already a depleted side before the start of the match having lost five players to illness and injuries.
For the Germans, who had 13 players at its disposal in the semifinal against Australia yesterday, it became bad to worse as they had just 11 players to play with, including reserve goalkeeper Mark Appel, in the bronze medal match after two more players fell ill.
But Germany dished out a lion-hearted performance and not only restricted the margin to 2-1 but also gave Indian defence a run for their money with as many as 13 shots at the goal as against the home team�s 12.
The Germans also had more penalty corners than India as they secured seven against the hosts� four.
They might be down with number of players, but the Germans once again produced structured hockey and not only held the attack for 21 minutes but also managed to sneak in a goal.
The Indians were lacklustre and below-par today and had it been a full strength German side the script of the match could very well have been different.
India took the lead in the 21st minute through SV Sunil before Germany equalised through its reserve custodian Mark Appel (36th). A penalty corner conversion by Harmanpreet Singh in the 54th minute sealed the win and the third place for the Indians.
India had also won the bronze in the last edition of the tournament in Raipur in 2015.
The Germans showed great determination and fighting spirit to not only hold India � but also create more and better opportunities in the first quarter.
Germany did not give India any clear cut chance but created a few and also secured the first penalty corner of the first quarter in the 14th minute but it was well defended by the Indians.
Soon after Germany captain Mark Grambusch, who himself played with fever, got a good opportunity but his shot from left side was just wide of the target. � PTI