| Indian hockey players wave the tri-colour after clinching gold in Hyderabad on Friday. (PTI)
Hyderabad: India continued their domination over Pakistan with a convincing 3-1 victory in a fast-paced encounter to clinch the gold in men’s hockey of the inaugural Afro-Asian Games here on Friday.
The third straight victory over their Asian rivals gave India their second major title in as many months. India had last month defeated Pakistan 4-2 in the final of the Asia Cup.
Arjun Halappa (7th minute), Len Aiyappa (34th) and Gagan Ajit Singh (56th) scored for the hosts while half back Gazanfar Ali scored a consolation goal for Pakistan in the 14th minute.
The Indians, leading 2-1 at half-time, sealed the fate of the match in the 56th minute when star forward Gagan Ajit made a probing run into the Pakistan area and slotted home after wrong footing two defenders.
In the first half, both the teams started cautiously trying to get the measure of their opponents. With the game gaining momentum, India started making a few good moves and were rewarded immediately when Halappa gave a beautiful pass to Deepak Thakur, who was obstructed on the goal mouth. The referee awarded India a penalty stroke. Halappa made no mistake from the spot (1-0).
But Pakistan came back strongly as they launched a relentless attack on the Indian goal earning two penalty corners in a span of seven minutes. While the first was well saved by Indian custodian Devesh Chauhan, full back Ghazanfar Ali made no mistake in converting the second to restore parity.
The Indians were forced on the back foot when Viren Rasquinha was shown the yellow card for bringing down Rehan Butt. Pakistan tried to take advantage of the one-man advantage as they put pressure on the Indian defence.
After Rasquinha’s return, India earned three penalty corners in quick succession with Len Aiyappa scoring through an indirect conversion with the third in the dying moments of the first half.
Trailing at the break, Pakistan came out firing on all cylinders in second half as their half line created numerous opportunities for the forwards. But the Indian defence led by skipper Dilip Tirkey and Harpal Singh stood firm and showed tremendous resilience to thrawt every move.
Pakistan forwards did not help their cause either as they missed many chances due to poor shooting. The Champions Trophy bronze medallists, missing the services of Sohail Abbas, also wasted as many as six penalty corners in the second half to negate any chances of a fight back.
South Korea overcame an early blow to beat Malaysia 2-1 for the bronze earlier on Friday.
Korea, who dominated for most part, were forced on to the back foot when Malaysian forward Rasoli Muhammad scored a goal in the 42nd minute. But the Asian Games champions bounced back to score two goals in the space of seven minutes through Hyo Sik Yoo (45th) and Kyung Seok Kim (52nd).
Earlier, South Africa rallied back superbly to beat Egypt through Gareth Carr’s golden goal to take the fifth place.
Trailing 0-2 till the 60th minute, South Africa pumped in two goals in nine minutes to take the match into extra time and Carr scored the golden goal converting a penalty corner in the 78th minute to herald a remarkable win for his side at the Gachibowli Stadium.
In the classification match for the last two places, Nigeria prevailed over Ghana 3-2 in a keenly contested battle. The win helped Nigeria finish seventh.