Their semi-finals spot guaranteed, India prevailed over defending champions South Korea 3-2 in their fourth round-robin fixture of the Asian Champions Trophy here on Monday, maintaining their unbeaten run in the continental hockey tournament.
Even before action got underway at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium, India had sealed their place in the semi-finals, following Japan’s 1-3 loss to Malaysia earlier in the day.
In the sixth minute, the deadlock was broken by the hosts, as Nilakanta Sharma tapped the ball in after Sukhjeet Singh dribbled the ball past a couple of defenders.
The Koreans did not take much time to equalise as Sunghyun Kim hammered it in after Manjae Jung’s low pass, in the 12th minute.
In the second quarter, it was all about India as they came up with as many as four chances and scored their second goal in the 23rd minute through a penalty corner.
The penalty corner was successfully converted by Harmanpreet Singh, who hit the ball low to the right of the goalkeeper before beating him.
After the restart, Korea squandered a penalty corner earned through video referral, even as Amit Rohidas was green-carded.
However, India came up with an attacking move and it resulted in a field goal by Mandeep Singh, as Shamsher Singh’s assist allowed the former to collect it comfortably and fire it in.
Just two minutes into the final quarter, India earned a penalty corner, which ultimately resulted in a penalty stroke. But, Harmanpreet’s attempt to go low towards the keeper’s right saw his effort being denied.
India continued with their attacking intent, with a double save coming from the Korean goalie in the 50th minute off Mandeep and Sukhjeet’s shots. Finally, in the 58th minute, Jihun Yang found the back of the net through a field goal.
Even as the Koreans looked for the equaliser, the Indian defence managed to hold on to the one-goal lead.
India will next be up against arch-rival Pakistan on Wednesday, while Korea, who remain in the top-four race, face Malaysia.
Pak stay in semis race
Goals from Muhammad Khan and Afraz helped Pakistan eke out a 2-1 victory over China to stay in the race for the semi-finals. The defeat meant China were knocked out of contention for the last-four stage.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Pakistan earned a penalty corner and Muhammad Khan successfully converted it.
In the earlier match, Malaysia beat Japan 3-1 to keep their semi-final hopes alive
Najmi Jazlan (13th minute, penalty corner), Ashran Hamsani (37th) and Shello Silverius (59th) struck for Malaysia. After a flurry of missed chances, Japan finally managed to strike through Niwa Takuma (59th).