Hockey Asia Cup: India held to a 1-1 draw by Korea

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Dhaka: The Indian hockey team earned a hard fought draw against South Korea in their first super 4 stage match of the Hockey Asia Cup in Dhaka. Jungjun Lee gave the Korea the lead before striker Gurjant Singh equalised for India in the last minute helping India maintain it’s unbeaten run in the tournament.

The match was always expected to be a battle between India’s in-form attackers versus Korea’s resilient defence and so it was as the men in blue kept the lion’s share of possession but found it hard to break a tough defence despite having better goal scoring chances.

The match started with India on attack as Akashdeep Singh missed an easy chance in the first few moments. He failed to connect a long ball with only the keeper to beat. Playing with an attacking intent, India soon earned a penalty corner towards the end of the first quarter, but failed to score as another chance went by.

The second quarter started in a similar manner as India continued attacking but a resolute Korean defence held on, giving very little space for the Indian forward-line to work on.

However, despite all the attacks it was Korea who shockingly took the lead in the 51st minute as the Indian defence of Varun Kumar and Sumit failed to clear a loose ball. With a goal down India put more pressure on the Korea back-line and almost scored in the 55th minute when Satbir Singh put in a fine ball for SV Sunil but the player failed to put power in his shot.

Already with a goal in lead, Korea began to defend in numbers as India continued to pile on more pressure. Desperate to equalise, India withdrew goalkeeper Suraj Karkera for an extra player with four minutes remaining and the move clicked as Gurjant Singh finally found the net, seconds before the final whistle. Gurjant fired in a shot even as India went all out in attack but his shot was parried away by the Korean goalie only to find Gurjant again who made no mistake on the rebound.

The much-needed equaliser also helped India maintain it’s unbeaten run in the tournament. The ‘Blue Tigers’ next play Malaysia in their second Super 4 Stage match tomorrow.

Meanwhile arch-rivals Pakistan continued to disappoint, losing 3-2 to Malaysia in the second Super 4 Stage match if the day. Only top two teams from the Super 4 Stage will qualify for the finals to be held on Sunday.

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