Chandigarh:India conceded a goal in the dying moments to lose the final of the Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament 1-2 against European champions the Netherlands here on Monday.
Tournament top-scorer Jeroen Hertzberger converted a penalty corner in the 66th minute to break Indian hearts in the final, played under lights before a packed Sector-42 hockey stadium.
After a barren first half, it was India who took the lead in the 43rd minute when Korean umpire Kim Hong Lee awarded the hosts a penalty stroke after striker Shivender Singh was unfairly tackled inside the striking circle by Dutch forward Wouter Jolie.
Skipper Sandeep Singh, who had failed to score from the spot against the Dutch in the group league stage, made no mistake this time as his low hit beat Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann.
The visitors equalised within three minutes when Robbert Kemperman's deflection beat India goalkeeper Baljit Singh.
India tried hard to find the winner and also earned five penalty corners but to no avail as Hertzberger's sixth goal of the tournament left them high and dry.
India earned their first penalty corner in the fifth minute but Sandeep's powerful hit was saved by Stockmann.
The hosts came close to opening their account in the 19th minute but striker Tushar Khandekar's diagonal pass to Shivender missed the goal by inches.
Holland earned their first penalty corner in the 20th minute but goalkeeper Baljit once again rose to the occasion to block the powerful shot.
The Indian defence came in for some tough time late in the first half from the Dutch strike pair of Hertzberger and Lucas Judge, but Baljit's strong keeping kept them at bay.
India got yet another chance to forge ahead at the stroke of halftime when Shivender led an attack from the right flank. However, Rajpal failed to trap the ball inside the striking circle and the chance went begging.
The Dutch, who were held 4-4 and 2-2 by India in the group league stage, took a victory lap after the final hooter.