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Asian Hockey Champions Trophy: India edge Pakistan 3-2 in thriller

Last updated on: October 23, 2016 21:53 IST

Ramandeep Singh celebrates on scoring the winner against Pakistan during their Asian Champions Trophy match in Malaysia on Sunday

IMAGE: Ramandeep Singh celebrates on scoring the winner against Pakistan during their Asian Champions Trophy match in Malaysia on Sunday. Photograph: Hockey India

India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 3-2 in an intense match of the Asian Champions Trophy on Sunday.

India’s Pradeep Mor opened the scoring before Pakistan equalised through Muhammad Rizwan Sr.

They struck in quick succession in the third quarter to go up 2-1, after Muhammad Irfan Jr’s strike in the 39th minute. But India continued to stay in the hunt for equaliser.

Their perseverance then paid off when Rupinder Pal Singh converted in a penalty corner to level the scores.

Ramandeep Singh scored a minute later by deflecting in a diagonal cross from Talwinder Singh.

This was India’s second victory in the tournament and have now logged seven points from three outings.

India had outplayed Japan 10-2 in their first outing, but were held to a 1-1 draw by South Korea on Saturday.

Starting as two-time defending champions, Pakistan suffered a 2-4 loss to hosts Malaysia and then prevailed 1-0 over South Korea in their previous matches of the six-nation league.

Top four team from the round-robin competition will advance to the semi-finals.

Today's fixture was the 166th international match between the two countries.

Pakistan forced the first penalty corner in the opening minute when an Indian defender carried the ball in the circle, but goalkeeper PR Sreejesh blocked two shots to ward off danger.

Sreejesh first padded the drag-flick from Muhammad Aleem Bilal and then dived to his right to clear the rebound attempt.

Pakistan spelt danger again in the fourth minute when their strikers worked in unison to create space deep in the Indian territory. A cross from the right rebounded to unmarked Muhammad Rizwan Jr. on top of the circle. But he sent a wayward shot wide of the left post.

Talwinder Singh had the first Indian shy at the goal in the 11th minute when he picked up a pass from the right on top of the circle and created some space as he turned for the reverse hit, but the shot soared high over the cross-piece.

India took the lead against the run of play in the 22nd minute when Pradeep Mor on the right flank latched on to the ball that had deflected off a Pakistani defender. Mor darted into the circle and sent in a firm shot from a very narrow angle that beat goalkeeper Imran Butt to land on target to score his maiden goal in 11 international games.

India had won the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in 2011 by defeating Pakistan in the final. Pakistan reversed the result in the title encounter the following year.

Pakistan retained the title by defeating Japan in the final in 2013, when India sent their under-21 team and finished fifth.

In the other match on the night, hosts Malaysia posted their third successive victory in the Asian Champions Trophy when they outplayed Japan 7-2 here today to stay on top of the round-robin league standings with a maximum nine points.

Star striker Faizal Saari scored two goals to lead the Malaysian charge, while five others made an entry in the scoresheet.

Japan denied the dominant Malaysian strikers a goal until the 23rd minute when  Niman Nik Rosemi opened the account with a field goal.

Rashid Baharom, Nabil Noor, Firhan Ashari and Fitri Saari were the other scorers for Malaysia, who had defeated defending champions Pakistan 4-2 and China 5-1 in earlier matches.

Japan, who have lost all their three matches, got two late consolation goals from Kenji Kitazato and Kentaro Fukuda.

In the round-robin league standings, Malaysia is followed by India on seven points from three matches. Pakistan and China are on three points from three outings.