Favourites India drub Japan 5-0 to set up date against Malaysia in ACT final

Chennai, Aug 11 (PTI) A dominant India mauled reigning Asian champions Japan 5-0 to enter their fourth final of the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here on Friday.

While three-time champions India adopted a high-press hockey from the onset, Japan played deep into their defence to thwart the home team’s attacks.

It was complete domination from the Indians as they found the back of the net five times through Akashdeep Singh (19th minute), skipper Harmanpreet Singh (23rd), Mandeep Singh (30th), Sumit (39th) and Karthi Selvam (51st).

India will take on Malaysia in the final on Saturday, whom the hosts had blanked 5-0 in the round-robin stage while Japan will lock horns against title holders South Korea in the third-fourth place play-off match.

The Indians on Friday proved that the 1-1 draw against Japan in the round-robin league stage was just an abberation as they completely dominated the game from start to finish.

The opening quarter saw attacking intents from both the sides.

While the hosts won a penalty corner just a couple of minutes into the game, Harmanpreet’s drag-flick was denied by Japanese goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa.

India had three more attempts in the first quarter, but failed to find the net. The Japanese too came close to scoring on an occasion in the eighth minute, but to no avail.

The Indians set the pace of the game and enjoyed bulk of the possession, while Japan played catch-up hockey.

After a barren first quarter, India finally took the lead in the 19th minute through Akashdeep, who slapped the ball in from a rebound after Hardik Singh’s initial shot was saved by Japan’s second goalkeeper Takumi Kitagawa.

India kept up the tempo and earned their second penalty corner four minutes later and skipper Harmanpreet sounded the board with a fierce low flick to the left of the Japanese goalie to double India’s lead.

It was relentless attacking from the Indians as the play was mostly inside the Japanese half.

Just at the stroke of half-time, India tripled their lead through Mandeep.

It was Manpreet Singh who was instrumental in getting the third goal as he intercepted the ball in the mid-field and then beat three Japanese defenders to set it up for Mandeep, who just had to direct the ball in.

The trend continued after the change of ends as India pressed hard on the Japanese goal.

Sumit probably scored the goal of the tournament with a back stick flick into the net from a tight angle after being brilliantly set up by Manpreet’s hardwork from the right flank.

Japan managed to penetrate the Indian circle in the 50th but to no use.

Young Selvam then made it 5-0 in India’s favour a minute later after being fed by an unselfish Sukhjeet Singh, who received a perfect ariel ball from Harmanpreet.

Japan tried hard in the dying minutes to get a consolation goal but the Indian defence stood tall to deny their opponents and register a convincing win.

Source: PTI News


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