India see off Korea in shootout thriller to enter Final of the 4th Asian Champions Trophy




Kuantan, Malaysia, 29 October 2016: India overpowered the Korean side in an action-packed Semi Final to march into the Final of the Asian Champions Trophy, beating them 5-4 in a penalty shootout. The teams were level at 2-2 after regulation time.

Talwinder Singh scored the opener in the 15th minute

Talwinder Singh scored the opener in the 15th minute

India opened the game patiently, rotating the ball between themselves waiting for an opening into the Korean defence. Despite the several circle penetrations, it took till the 9th minute for the first real chance to materialise, as India won the first PC of the game. The opportunity went amiss though, Rupinder Pal Singh improvising from the injection, but his attempt was blocked away by the Korean defence. Two minutes later, Ramandeep fashioned a chance out of nothing, spinning away from his markers to unleash a shot on the goal; his shot was parried over Doopyo Hong in Korea’s goal.

India were attacking constantly though, getting closer each time to finding the break through. In the final minute of the quarter, they had it. Kothajit’s pass from the 16-yard line found Talwinder Singh inside the circle, and the forward spun away from his marker to unleash a reverse hit perfectly into the bottom corner to give India the lead in the 15th minute.

India conceded a PC in the final seconds of the quarter, but Korea’s miss meant they went into the break with the lead.

India almost doubled that lead within minutes of the restart, a superb display of individual skill from Affan Yousuf and then SK Uthappa fashioning a chance for the latter, who pushed it wide. Korea equalised in the 21st minute via a Seo Inwoo goal.

Both teams traded PCs at the end of the quarter, but neither were able to score; Sreejesh making a smart save from Korea’s PC right at the end, to take them into half time level at 1-1.

The two teams kept up the high tempo of play in the third quarter, with India dominating possession and play but unable to get the breakthrough for the lead. Ramandeep Singh came closest, deflecting a driving pass from Nikkin Thimmaiah wide of the target.

The two teams went into the final quarter with the rain increasing, slowing the pace of the game down to a minimum as a result. Korea took the lead via a Penalty Stroke in the 53rd minute.

Down and with time ticking away, India attacked in droves and very soon had their third PC, but the smart improvisation was saved by Hong.

Up stepped Sardar Singh, picking the ball up on the left flank and driving into Korea’s circle, dribbling past three Korean defenders, before cutting the pass back to Ramandeep square in front of goal. Ramandeep took the shot first time, slotting it into the top corner to draw India level.

That was how it would stay, despite all of India’s possession and attacking intent as the two teams headed into a shootout to determine a winner.

Even in the shootout the two teams were inseparable for the opening four attempts. Goals by Sardar, Ramandeep, Rupinder Pal and Akashdeep matched by Manjae Jung, Hyeongjin Kim, Jungjun Lee and Jongsuk Bae.

Birender Lakra was awarded a stroke by Murray Grime on account of a stick check by Hong, and Rupinder Pal scored from the spot. That put the onus on Daeyeol Lee, the man in charge of Korea’s final attempt. Sreejesh had already come close to saving an attempt in the previous one, and this time he made no mistake, pushing the ball away to give India a well-deserved if hard-fought victory.

The Final will be held on October 30, 2016 at 18.00 hrs. Matches will be shown LIVE on Star Sports 4/HD4 & Hotstar.

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