Muscat (Oman): The Indian Men’s Hockey Team secured the top spot in the Pool stages of the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as they defeated South Korea 4-1 in their fifth and final round robin match held here at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Wednesday.
The Indian team secured the three points through Harmanpreet Singh’s hat-trick of goals scored in the 5th, 47th and 59th minutes and Gurjant Singh’s 10th-minute strike which saw India secure the top spot in Pool Standings with a tally of 13 points from their five matches and a goal difference of 25, and progress to the Semi-Final match of the competition. Having played a goalless draw against Malaysia on Tuesday, the Indian team looked to cement their position at the top of the Pool Standings by attacking the South Koreans from the opening whistle. The Indian team maintained possession in the opening few minutes and were awarded their first Penalty Corner in the 5th minute which was fiercely struck in the top right corner by drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, to give India the lead.
In the following minutes, South Korea seemed content in sitting back and maintaining a compact structure, which made it difficult for the Indians to break through but in the 9th minute, Striker Akashdeep Singh had a chance to score but saw his shot blaze over the crossbar. Good game-reading in the following minute saw the World No. 5 team extend their lead to two goals as they scored through a counter attack in which Harmanpreet Singh found Gurjant Singh inside the South Korean circle with a precise long pass, the young striker obliging by making a turn and shooting into the top left corner with a tomahawk.
India started the second quarter with some high pressing again but it was South Korea’s turn to open their account as they scored in the 20th minute against the run of play when a clearance by Surender Kumar was intercepted by a Korean player and passed onto Lee Seungil on the right side of the Indian circle, and the Korean Captain struck a shot from a tight angle to beat PR Sreejesh and make the scores 2-1.
Two minutes later, South Korea won their first Penalty Corner but the resulting execution was blocked by the Indians. Both the teams had their chances before the half-time break but neither could produce the goods in the final third as India took their 2-1 lead into the interval.
The third quarter was tense for India as the South Koreans scored inside 29 seconds, but the goal was disallowed after a referral by the Indians. Another referral five minutes later, but this time for the World No. 14 side saw them win another Penalty Corner, but the resulting execution was well defended by Indian Captain .
India finally pushed their advantage in 4th quarter as Harmanpreet Singh converted his second Penalty Corner when he hit the ball into the top left corner, past South Korean Goalkeeper Kim Jaehyeon to extend India’s lead to 3-1 after 47 minutes. South Korea tried to make a comeback as they were awarded a Penalty Corner in the 54th minute, only to be thwarted by Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak.