Asian Games hockey: Indian men beat Japan 3-2, to face Malaysia in semisBy IANS
Sunday, November 21, 2010
GUANGZHOU - Sandeep Singh continued his sublime touch with drag-flicks, slamming two goals in India’s 3-2 defeat of Japan in the Asian Games hockey here Sunday.
With the win, India finished at the top of Group B. They will now take on Malaysia, who defeated China 4-2 in their last Group A match Sunday, in Tuesday’s semifinal. Pakistan will face Group B topper South Korea in the other semifinal.
Sandeep converted the two penalty corners (38th, 62nd) that came India’s way and took his goal tally in the tournament to 10. Rajpal Singh (31st minute) did full justice to a crafty move at the midfield to score India’s only field goal. For Japan, Hiroki Sakamoto (21st, 63rd) scored two field goals.
India, who had qualified for the semifinals even before Sunday’s match, have an all-win record with 12 points. Pakistan qualified for the semifinals finishing second in the group with nine points.
Pakistan booked their place in the semifinals by defeating Bangladesh in their last pool match 6-1. World record holder penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas scored two goals for Pakistan while Mohammad Imran and Shakeel Abbasi played a crucial part by scoring two goals each.
India, who beat Pakistan Saturday, came up with an impressive show against Japan and controlled the match in the second half.
Japan was the better team in the first half. After Indian goalkeeper, Bharat Chetri made a good save to block a penalty corner strike, Japan opened the scoring when Sakamoto connected a pass from Ono Tomonori deflecting the ball by sticking out his left hand.
India equalised within ten minutes through a brilliant move initiated by Tushar Khandekar and Gurbaz Singh. Shivendra Singh then receiving the ball from the right showed presence of mind as he foxed three defenders to back-flick the ball to Rajpal, who slammed home.
Both teams came close to scoring on a few occasion in the first half, but failed to capitalise.
India took the lead immediately after the second half as Sandeep, showing perfect exhibition of drag-flicking, struck a scorcher past the goalkeeper Nagaoka Shunsuke.
Japan stepped up their effort to equalise but the Indian defence stood solid with Sardar Singh coming out with some good interceptions and tackling.
Japanese goalkeeper Shunsuke made a brilliant save when he palmed out a powerful strike of Sandeep to thwart India’s second penalty corner.
But Sandeep made it 3-1 as he was on target with the third penalty corner.
Japan added to their tally a minute later with Sakamoto scoring his second goal.