India [ Images ] scored a hard-fought 2-1 victory over China in their last pool match to enter the semi-finals of the seventh junior men's Asia Cup hockey tournament, in Malacca, on Monday.
Naveen Antil (19th minute) and Amit Rohidas (57th) scored for India, while China's lone reply came through winger Yu Xin in the 45th minute.
Having registered two wins and a draw, India collected seven points and moved into the last four stage.
India, needing to beat China to top the pool, found the going tough as the Chinese packed their defence.
India took a long time to settle down. Winger Antil tapped the ball home following a melee to give India the lead in the 19th minute.
There were many chances to increase the lead but forwards Malak Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Satbir Singh were wayward inside the circle.
After the teams changed sides with the scorecard reading 1-0 in India's favour, China leveled the score 15 minutes into the second half when Yu Xin connected a Zhang Zhixuan's hit in from the top of D much against the run of play.
The Indians attacked relentlessly, opening the wings and tightening the midfield, but chances were wasted due to poor finish inside the circle.
India's penalty-corner battery too was unimpressive. However, vice-captain Rohidas sent in a grounder off the fifth chance they got, much to the relief of their camp.
The Chinese pressed hard in the last ten minutes stretching the Indian defence, manned by Amit and Sukhmanjit Singh.
Sushant Tirkey, the Indian goalkeeper, also came up with good saves to keep the lead intact.
India will meet either Pakistan or Sri Lanka [ Images ] in the semi-finals.
Pakistan need to defeat Sri Lanka by a 12-goal margin to top the pool and therefore avoid Malaysia in the cross over semi-finals on Thursday.