Muscat, October 27: Defending champions India survived a scare as the Men in Blue set up a mouthwatering title clash with arch-rivals Pakistan. It was a battle of nerves as the Manpreet Singh-led side held on to their nerves to defeat Asian Games gold medallists Japan 3-2 in the second semi-final of the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy in Muscat on Saturday (October 27).
Earlier in the first semi-final, Pakistan had edged Malaysia 3-1 in the shoot-out. In regulation time Pakistan and Malaysia had played out a thrilling 4-4 draw to drag the match into the shootouts.
FT. The Indian Men's Hockey Team ward off a late fight-back from Japan to claim victory in the Semi-Final of the Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018 on 27th October and set up a clash in the Final against Pakistan.#IndiaKaGame #HeroACT2018 #INDvJPN pic.twitter.com/k8Vn3DRhQA— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) October 27, 2018
The Indian team had entered the semis unbeaten and start off in a strong way from the first minute. Gurjant Singh(19’), Chinglensana (44’) and Dilpreet Singh (55’) scored for the champs, while Hirotaka Wakaru (22’) and Hirotaka Zendana (56’) found the back of the net for Japan.
Despite a strong start, the Indian team failed to create clear shots on goal. They were awarded their first penalty in the second minute itself, but drag-flicker Harmanpreet failed to convert it.
India kept pressing on the goal but Japanese goalkeeper held on, before Gurjant Singh put India in the lead in the 19th minute. But the lead was short-lived as Japan bounced back immediately in the 22nd minute as Wakaru converted a penalty corner to level the scores.
With scores level, India earned back-to-back penalties in the 26th minute but once again failed to convert it. At half-break the game remained level at 1-1.
Following the break, India earned another PC at the 44th minute and got the lead back as Chinglensana made no mistake to hand India back the lead. India kept possession thereon and Dilpreet struck a superb solo goal to increase the champs lead to 3-1.
India and Pakistan set up a meeting in the Final of the Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as Korea defeat Oman to claim the 5th spot in the standings of the tournament. Here are how the results played out on 27th October 2018.— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) October 27, 2018
#IndiaKaGame #HeroACT2018 pic.twitter.com/CyDfQSvWQN
But the see-saw continued as Japan earned their third PC and Zendana converted it to narrow down the lead. From there on it was a matter of nerves as India held on for the last four minutes to seal their place in the final.
India will play arch-rivals Pakistan in the final on Sunday, while Japan will player Malaysia in the third-place playoff.
Asian Champions Trophy Final: India vs Pakistan on Sunday (October 28) at 10:40pm IST