India men’s hockey team made it two in two after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next year, after beating Russia 11-3 on aggregate at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
After the women’s team secured a Tokyo berth earlier in the day, owing to a Rani Rampal goal which won India the two-legged tie by 6-5, the men’s team strolled to book a place in the 2020 Olympics.
Akashdeep Singh (23rd and 29th minutes) and Rupinder Pal Singh (48th, 59th) scored a brace each, while Lalit Upadhyay (17th), Nilkanta Sharma (47th) and Amit Rohidas (60th) struck after Russia took an early lead in the opening minute through Alexey Sobolevskiy.
India equalised in the 21st minute through a field strike by Lalit Upadhyay, who deflected in a Hardik Singh shot.
The Indians upped their ante and took the lead in the 23rd minute when Akashdeep scored following a penalty corner.
There was no stopping the Indians after the initial hiccup as they added four more goals in the final quarter to add to Russia’s agony.
Nilakanta scored with a powerful shot into the top left angle of the goal in the 47th minute before Rupinder converted a penalty corner in the very next minute.
The berth more or less secured, India pumped in two more goals in the final two minutes of the game through penalty corner conversions by Rupinder and Rohidas.
In the first leg, Mandeep Singh had struck twice to hand a below-par India a 4-2 win against Russia. Harmanpreet Singh and SV Sunil had also hit the target for India on Friday.
The World No. 5 India qualified for their 20th Olympics, in which they have won eight gold medals, one silver, and two bronzes.
(With PTI inputs)