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India, Pakistan in Asia Cup final
rediff.com Sportsdesk |
September 26, 2003 15:53 IST
Last Updated: September 26, 2003 19:52 IST
India woke up late in the match to score three goals in as many minutes and beat South Korea 4-2 in the semi-finals of the Asia Cup hockey tournament, at the Bukit Jalil stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
In Sunday's final, India will meet Pakistan, who beat Japan 3-1 in the second semi-final.
Shabbir Hussain (27th minute), Gazanfar Ali (41st) and Nadeem Ahmed (57th) scored for Pakistan while Ryuji Furusato found the mark for Japan in the 39th minute.
After being at the receiving end for most of the first half and conceding a goal in the third minute of the second session, the Indians fought back magnificently, scoring thrice in the last three minutes to snatch victory.
You Hyo Sik put the Koreans ahead in the 38th minute following a lapse in the Indian defence. But a frenzied attacking spell in the next ten minutes enabled India restore parity in the 58th minute, when Sandeep Michael, who had ten minutes earlier made a mess of an easy chance, scored, following a cross from the left by Tejbir Singh.
The goal spurred the Indians and they maintained their ascendancy and forged ahead in the 67th minute through Prabhjot Singh, who had frittered away a couple of chances in the first session. He was on target with a reverse hit following a pass by Baljit Singh Dhillon.
Gagan Ajit Singh made it 3-1 a minute later.
But the Koreans came back strongly and pulled one back in the 69th minute through Lee Jung Seon before Deepak Thakur put the issue beyong doubt, finishing off on a pass from Prabhjot Singh with seconds to go.
Earlier, fine goalkeeping by Devesh Chauhan enabled the Indians keep a clean sheet in the first half. Had he not brought off some fine saves, India would have been at least two goals down at the breather. In the eighth minute he did well to save a stiff shot by Lee Jong Seong from handstanking distance, while late in the half, he thwarted Korean captain Kim Jung Chul from Korea's second and third penalty-corners.
For most of the half, the Indians lacked co-ordination and surrendered possession. It allowed the defending champions to exploit the yawning gaps in the defence, which, by playing too deep, was always wanting.
Thakur had the best chance to put India ahead in the 26th minute, but he hit wide with an open goal in front of him after captain Dhanraj Pillay put him in possession with a defence-splitting pass.
In the classification matches for fifth to eight places, Malaysia beat Bangladesh 5-0 while China beat Hong Kong 2-0.
Malaysia and China will play-off on Saturday for fifth-sixth places, while Hong Kong and Bangladesh will play for seventh-eighth.