India stayed on course for a 4th Asian Champions Trophy with a comprehensive 5-0 win against Japan, not only avenging the 1-1 draw in the league stage but also making its superiority evident, dominating the proceedings all through.
It will now face Malaysia, playing its maiden ACT final, after the latter eliminated defending champion Korea from the competition with a 6-2 win.
A penalty corner in the 2nd minute was saved and Japan raced for a counter, only to be thwarted by the Indian defence. Kosei Kawabe failed to connect a Kentaro Fukuda cross in the 17th minute.
Its defence tried gamely to hold up initially, not allowing the Indians space to take their shots. But with the Indians swarming all over, it was only a matter of time.
It was an India show all the way and there was more than one star. Hardik and Sumit controlled the midfield, playing up high to assist the attack as well, and were the creators for India’s first goal that saw Akashdeep slam into the net. Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar performed defensive duties and Shamsher was impressive as always as the silent playmaker.
But it was largely a Manpreet Singh show. The former captain got the 3rd goal that was officially credited to Mandeep Singh but had the former captain written all over it, taking control on the 23-yard line, wrong-footing two defenders and shooting from the top circle for the slightest deflection.
He did all the hard work before setting up Sumit for the 4th. Manpreet was the man on right, left and centre, attacking and holding. There were also quite a few that couldn’t find the final touch.
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