Asia Cup: India demolishes Pakistan, moves into final

After a goalless first half, India pumped in four goals to deflate its arch-rival and book a spot in the final of the Asia Cup.

India turned the narrative around in the second half of the game. P   -  PTI

India continued its unbeaten run and thrashed arch-rival Pakistan 4-0 to sail into the final of the 10th men's Asia Cup hockey tournament here on Saturday.

The sixth-ranked India, which just needed a draw to seal a place in Sunday's summit clash, produced a superlative performance after the change of ends to pump in four goals - three field strikes and one through penalty corner. Satbir Singh (39th minute), Harmanpreet Singh (51st), Lalit Upadhyay (52nd) and Gurjant Singh (57th) were the scorers for India.

By virtue of this win, India topped the Super 4 stage with seven points.

Dominance over arch-rival

The win was India's fourth over Pakistan this year, having beaten it twice in the Hockey World League Semifinals in London and once in the pool stages here. The defeat knocked Pakistan out of the race for the final and India will now play either Korea or Malaysia - the teams play each other later in the day - in the final.

The Indians were slow to get off the blocks, while Pakistan was the better side in terms of possession in the first two quarters. Pakistan had three chances via penalty corners to take the lead in the first quarter, but wasted all.

The Indians secured the first penalty corner in the final minute of the opening quarter, but Harmanpreet could not utilise the opportunity. After Ramandeep Singh's shot was saved by Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali in the 23rd minute, India defended well to deny its rival from another short corner. Minutes later, Harmanpreet hit the cross bar from India's second penalty corner as both teams failed to break the deadlock at half-time.

Turnaround

But India looked more organised after the change of ends and dominated the proceedings in the final two quarters.

Satbir gave India the lead in the 39th minute after receiving a fine back stick pass from Lalit. Minutes later, Harmanpreet's effort from India's third set piece was saved by Amjad Ali. The Indians created chances in the final few minutes of the third quarter but Pakistan custodian Ali was up to the mark to keep Pakistan in the hunt.

India wasted two more penalty corners in a span of two minutes as Amjad Ali made multiple saves to deny its opponent.

India pressed on the gas in the final 10 minutes and scored three goals in a span of six minutes to run away with the game. While Harmanpreet Singh scored his seventh goal of the tournament from India's sixth penalty corner, Lalit made it 3-0 a minute later by pouncing on a loose ball inside the D. India added salt to Pakistan's wounds when Gurjant slotted home three minutes from the final hooter after receiving a precision pass from Akshdeep Singh from the right flank.

India will face Malaysia in the finals after the latter held Korea to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

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