CHENNAI: The Indian men’s hockey team beat South Korea in a tight match by 3-2 in its fourth game at the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy on Monday, solidifying Men in Blue’s position at the top of the points table and guaranteeing them a semifinal spot.
The match happened at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai. India is at the top with three wins and a draw in four matches. They have a total of 10 points. Malaysia has slipped to second with nine points, having won three and lost one match, as per Olympics.com.
India’s goals came from midfielder Nilakanta Sharma (6′), captain Harmanpreet Singh (23′), and Mandeep Singh (33′), whereas Korea’s goals came from Sunghyun Kim (12′) and Jihun Yang (58′).
India, which is currently ranked fourth in men’s hockey by the FIH, got off to a strong start. In the sixth minute, deft stickwork by Sukhjeet Singh and a subsequent excellent pass enabled Nilakanta Sharma to score the game’s first goal.
Nineteenth-ranked Korea answered six minutes later. Sunghyun Kim scored the equaliser by bursting into the free space inside the circle and defeating Indian custodian Krishan Bahadur Pathak.
Despite Korea’s regular circle penetrations, the Indian hockey squad committed a large number of attacks. When Mandeep Singh connected with a Korean defender’s foot in the 22nd minute, India was awarded their first penalty corner.
Harmanpreet Singh’s initial drag-flick attempt was stopped on the line, but on his second attempt, he managed to get past the Korean defenders and make it 2-1. Harmanpreet Singh scored his fifth goal of the match with this effort.
In the second minute of the second half, after Amit Rohidas had failed to intercept Harmanpreet Singh’s ball in the circle, Korea was awarded their first penalty corner of the game. Korea, though, was unable to make a difference.
Mandeep Singh fired a low shot on the reverse to make it 3-1 as soon as India countered. In the 47th minute, India had an opportunity to increase their lead, but Harmanpreet Singh missed a penalty shot.
In the following ten minutes, Korea gained as many as eight penalty corners, but courageous defence by Indian rushers Amit Rohidas and Manpreet Singh denied the reigning champions a chance to capitalise.
India kept its two-goal lead until the final siren.
After defeating the People’s Republic of China 7-2 in their opening match, India was tied 1-1 by Japan in the earlier games. In the third game, India triumphed 5-0 over Malaysia.
On Wednesday, the eagerly anticipated India vs. Pakistan game will take place. The 2023 Asian Champions Trophy round-robin match will be India’s last game.
Earlier, Malaysia made a strong comeback after a loss to India and secured a 3-1 win over Japan, while Pakistan also bagged their first win of the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy after beating China by 2-1 at Chennai on Monday.
In the first match of the day, Malaysia took on Japan.
In the fifth minute itself, Malaysia secured the first penalty corner of the match. Razie Rahim hit a drag-flick which though on target, was saved by Kaito Tanaka with his stick.
In the 13th minute, Malaysia took the lead with Najmi Jazlan successfully converting a penalty corner, which the referee initially said was above the knee, but the TV umpire deemed it to be fair.
Malaysia ended the first quarter with a lead of 1-0.
In the starting minutes of the second quarter, Azuan Hasan was shown a green card and Malaysia was left with 10 men on the field.
Both sides got some penalty corners which they failed to convert. Japan had opportunities to level the score but they could not, till the end of quarter two.
In the third quarter, even Japan was down to 10 men after being shown the green card to Masaki Ohashi. In the 35th minute, Japan received a penalty corner but Malaysia goalkeeper Azhar saved it with his stick.
Then Malaysia doubled the lead with a goal from Ashran Hamsani in the 37th minute. Malaysia ended the third quarter with a 2-0 lead.
In the 59th minute, Shello Silverius executed a superb field goal to make it 3-0 for Malaysia.
Japan secured their first goal of the match in the last minute, thanks to Niwa Takuma
In the next match, Pakistan took on China.
In the first quarter, Pakistan created plenty of chances to score but missed all. The first quarter ended goalless despite efforts from Abdul Rana, Muhammad Khan and Rehman.
In the second quarter, Pakistan took the lead in the 20th minute with a superb strike from Muhammad Khan, who unleashed a deadly drag flick to the delight of his fans.
Pakistan ended half-time with a 1-0 lead over China.
In the third quarter, China successfully converted a penalty corner and Jisheng Gao hit the equaliser with a ferocious drag-flick.
Just six minutes later however, Pakistan took back the lead, with Afraz placing the ball comfortably into the net after Umar Bhutta and Rana made some great moves inside the circle.
Pakistan reached the final quarter with a 2-1 lead and ended the match with this scoreline. (ANI)