The Indian team, led by Manpreet Singh, would have wished for a title push, but their hopes were dashed in the semifinal by Japan, who beat them 5-3 on Tuesday.
A resolute India came from behind to defeat old foe Pakistan in the third-place play-off match at the Hero Men’s Asian Champions Trophy on Wednesday. The Indian team, led by Manpreet Singh, would have wished for a title push, but their hopes were dashed in the semifinal by Japan, who beat them 5-3 on Tuesday. In the end, the Olympic bronze medallist would have to be content with finishing third at the prestigious continental hockey tournament. Harmanpreet Singh (2′), Sumit (45′), Varun Kumar (54′), and Akashdeep (57′) got their names on the scoresheet, helping India defeat Pakistan in a game that lived up to the pre-match hype.
Earlier, India was quick to get off the blocks in the first quarter, making inroads into the Pakistani circle with an intense attack. The tactic seemed to have worked, as India successfully won a PC in the second minute of the game. Though Pakistani first rusher Ajaz Ahmad made an effective run-in to stop India from scoring, Harmanpreet Singh eventually found the back of the net in his fourth attempt. However, they were not able to hold on to this 1-0 lead for long.
Pakistan were able to quickly retaliate when a defensive error allowed their attacker Afraz to make a quick attempt on goal. He was able to successfully put the ball past India’s goalkeeper, thereby getting his team the much-needed equaliser. With the scoreline reading 1-1, Pakistan found another opportunity to surge ahead in the 13th minute when they won their first PC of the match. However, an alert Krishan Pathak warded off the danger with a fabulous save.
Congratulations to the #MenInBlue for clinching the 3rd place in the Hero Men’s Asian Champions Trophy Dhaka 2021. 🏆
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 22, 2021
The two Asian heavyweights started the second quarter with a 1-1 scoreline, as they traded opportunities to score but neither was successful in taking the lead. It was only after the 10-minute half-time break, both teams looked lively in their attacking side of the game. However, it was Pakistan who scored in the 33rd minute to claim a 2-1 lead with a brilliant goal by their young midfielder Abdul Rana, who led the Pakistani Junior team at the recent FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar. He picked up a rebound off a PC to send the ball swiftly past the Indian goalkeeper Pathak.
Despite India creating a few chances to score in the later part of this quarter, they were not able to convert any of them. However, the defending champions did well to hold their nerves under pressure before scoring the crucial goals in the final moments of the match that saw them snatch the lead back from their opponents.
It was midfielder Sumit who scored the important goal for India in the 45th minute after he was tactfully assisted by forward Gursahibjit who beat three Pakistani defenders on the left flank to set up the goal. This helped India level the score at 2-2.
In the 54th and 57th minutes of the game, India scored through Varun Kumar’s PC and Akashdeep Singh’s fine field goal that sealed the match in their favour. Pakistan did not give up as they made persistent attempts in the dying minutes and they got a goal back towards the end of the match through Moin Shakeel. However, India’s defence protected their 4-3 lead to ensure they returned home with a third-place finish in the Hero Men’s Asian Champions Trophy.
In a nail-biting spectacle, South Korea defeated Japan in the Asian Champions Trophy final via penalty shoot-out (4-2) after the scores were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation time. Earlier, Japan caused a huge upset by beating India 5-3 in the semi-final, as they booked a ticket to face South Korea in the final. South Korea, on the other hand, put up an impressive display against Pakistan who were outscored 6-5 in the other semi-final.
— Doordarshan Sports (@ddsportschannel) December 22, 2021
South Korea got off to a flyer with the help of Jeong Junwoo who opened the scoring in the 8th minute to take the lead. However, Japan responded in an emphatic way by scoring the next 3 goals and taking a 3-1 lead heading into the last quarter. Two late strikes from South Korea’s Jang Jonghyun in the 55th and 60th minute meant it was headed to penalties to decide the champion.
In the end, it was South Korea who managed to stay calm and composed. They edged out Japan by winning the penalty shootout 4-2.