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Pakistan edge South Korea 3-2

Anupam Ghulati | May 28, 2005 21:01 IST

Three time champions Pakistan warded off a spirited fightback from Asian Games gold medalists South Korea 3-2 to register their second straight win in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Pakistan exhibited flair and fluency in their attack as their midfield and defence played admirably to take the side to the top of the table with six points from two matches.

Pakistan broke into the lead in the second minute when winger Rehan Butt was stick-checked inside the circle after receiving an overhead ball from captain Muhammad Saqlain.

The resultant penalty corner was flicked home by full back Mohd Imran to the right of goalkeeper Dong Sik Ko.

Stung by this early reversal, the Koreans tried to find an early equaliser, but the Pakistan midfield countered stiff opposition.

The central midfielders Saqlain with Adnan Maqsood were brilliantly supported by Dilawar Husain and Imran Khan to foil the Korean forwards who constantly interchanged their positions.

The Asian Games winners however found the equaliser in the 14th minute as Seong Jung Kang converted their second penalty corner, after the Korean striker was himself blocked on the edge of the circle by Zeeshan Ashraf.

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Pakistan played the opening session with great speed and matched their rivals in ball control and down the flank rundowns.

The Korea lead was shortlived as Pakistan again took the lead a minute later. Butt broke through from the right wing and in the goalmouth scramble the ball deflected to Shakeel Abbasi in the clear.

The Pakistan Under-21 captain made no mistake in sounding the ball.

The level of the Korean display appeared to fall as they committed unforced errors aplenty.

Pakistan further increased their lead to 3-1 five minutes before changeover when Akhtar Ali intercepted a Jong Bok Cha clearance on the centerline and with a solo dodged past Dong Sik Ko on the circle edge before pushing in.

After the break Korea did most of the attacking but Pakistan rose to the occasion with some splendid tackles and saves by goalkeeper Salman Akbar.

Korea were however able to reduce the margin in the 44th minute when Jong Hyun Jang converted their fifth penalty corner with a low drag flick on the left.

They had a few more chances for parity but their forwards failed to break through the tight Pakistan defence.

With this victory Pakistan lead the leaderboard table with six points from two matches, while Korea are fifth with one point earned from the draw against Australia in their opening fixture on Friday.

On Sunday India play Malaysia, while Pakistan take on South Africa and Australia play New Zealand.

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