FIH Series Finals semis: As it happened- India defeats Japan 7-2, seals spot in the Olympic Qualifiers

Defeating Japan 7-2 in the semifinal, India progressed to the final where it will be up against South Africa. With this win, India has qualified for the Olympic Qualifiers later in the year irrespective of the result in the final.

Hockey Team

Indian Men's Hockey Team   -  Getty Images

India, with the 7-2 win against Japan, will now progress to the final. It will face South Africa in the clash.  Irrespective of the result in the final, India has sealed a place in the Olympic Qualifiers.

Here's how the action unfolded:

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Much like the previous games in this tournament,  India began the game in a lukewarm fashion and was only able find its rhythm in the third quarter. Japan, being a stronger opponent, put the Indian defence under pressure for quite sometime but crucial contributions at the right time helped it finish the match with 7-2 to set up the summit clash with South Africa on Saturday.

FULL TIME: INDIA 7-2 JAPAN. Japan finds no answer to reduce the deficit as India rides on its five-goal lead to seal the win.

56' PC for Japan. It's its sixth of the match. Zendana takes it but the shot is wide.

54' Indian goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak had little to do in the group stage matches and have stepped up to the occasion when Japan came knocking on the door, says Samarendranath Soory, who if you have missed earlier updates, is at the Kalinga Stadium.

52' PC for Japan. Sreejesh stands his ground, and blocks it through his pads.

47' GOAL! INDIA 7-2 JAPAN. Vivek Prasad is the newest addition to the list of goalscorers as the host is now enjoying a five-goal lead against the Asian champions.

46' The final quarter begins. India, at things stand, look safe to reach the final, where it would be up against South Africa.

- Despite the four goal difference it still feels this Indian team's best is yet to be reached, opines Samarendranath Soory, from Odisha.

- End of Q3 -

43' GOAL! INDIA 6-2 JAPAN. India scores on the counter as Gursahibjit easily nets home from a pass from Nilkanta. The goal will go to Gursahibjit Singh, but it was Vivek Prasad's trap on the edge on the edge of the circle that made it look so easy.

42' Kirishita Yoshiki wins PC for Japan. Yamata Shota takes it, and Japan gets another PC. Maruta Kazuma wants a penalty corner but isn't gifted so. He gets a green card for arguing with the umpire.

37' GOAL! INDIA 5-2 JAPAN. Ramandeep injects the ball, Mandeep tries to slap it across the goal but it falls in the path of Zendana Hirotaka. The Japanese however fails to clear the ball, and Ramandeep makes the most of the loose clearance, as he finds the net. Ramandeep has his second of the evening!

35' Tanaka Kenta gifts PC to India. This is the seventh PC for India.  Harmanpreet takes it and Mandeep looks for a deflection, which he thinks comes off a Japanese defender, and thus appeals for a penalty stroke. The umpire is unimpressed and play goes on.

31' Q3 begins! India will look to defend its two-goal lead.

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- India needs to shore up its midfield and increase the intensity going forward. The two-goal cushion would have not been if not for Krishan Pathak's excellent save off a Japanese corner, says our correspondent Samarendranath Soory from Bhubaneswar.

 

HALF TIME: INDIA 4-2 JAPAN. Goals from Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Ramandeep Singh and Hardik Singh means India leaves the field at the end of the second quarter with a two-goal lead.

28' Japan wins PC. Yamada Shota shoots but Sreejesh saves it. Half-time approaching soon.

25' GOAL! INDIA 4-2 JAPAN. It is suddenly raining goals at the Kalinga Stadium! Hardik Singh sends home a loose ball from close range after Japan failed to clear the danger.

23' GOAL! INDIA 3-2 JAPAN. Ramandeep Singh brings India up as he connects with Gurinder Singh's delivery from the right side.

19' GOAL! INDIA 2-2 JAPAN. Japan net the equaliser. Watanabe Kota scores as the Japanese bounce back.

18' CHANCE! From the left channel, Tanaka Kenta rushes past the Indian defence and takes a shot from distance. It is however blocked by Sreejesh at goal.

- End of Q1-

15' The goal should finally ease the tense atmosphere around the Kalinga Stadium. The pace of the first quarter has been frantic though Japan's threat has not been nullified yet, comments our correspondent Samarendranath Soory from Bhubaneswar.

14' GOAL! India 2-1 Japan. India bounces back! Ramandeep Singh begins the action from the PC, and Varun Kumar sends it past Takano Yusuke.

13' PC for India. Hardik Singh wins the PC for India. Ramandeep Singh flicks it, but doesn't find the net. India however will have another PC, thanks to a deflection. Amit Rohidas steps up for it, and wins another PC for the host.

11' CHANCE FOR INDIA! Harmanpreet Singh sends a lobbed ball forward for Manpreet Singh on the right. Manpreet crosses from the right channel, and flashes the ball across the goal. Akashdeep Singh and Gursahibjit Singh, who are placed right in front of the goal, fail to connect.

10' India needs to watch out for the right channel. Surender Kumar needs to mark Genki Mitani more closely, says our correspondent Samarendranath Soory, who is at the venue.

8' GOAL! INDIA 1-1 JAPAN. Harmanpreet Singh finds the equaliser for the host nation in what was the second penalty corner awarded.

8' PC for India. Harmanpreet flicks it, and India has another PC awarded. The Japanese aren't happy.

4' Nilkanta Sharma creates space for himself inches away from the goal and tries a backhander. He however is denied by the Japan goalkeeper.

3' Harmanpreet is furious at his fellow defenders for letting that goal in. India needs to find a reply and quickly.

2' GOAL! INDIA 1-0 JAPAN. Japan has the early lead it looked for as Kitazato Kenji finds the net, after Tanaka Kenta set up him. The Indian defence left helpless.

1' Off goes the whistle and the action is underway!

- The teams are walking out on the field for the national anthems. The winner of this match will face South Africa in the final.

 

- JUST IN: South Africa has defeated the United States to seal its FIH Series Finals spot. It defeated the Americans 2-1 in a comeback victory, scoring in the dying minutes.

- India XI: Manpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Mandeep Singh, Krishan Pathak (GK), Harmanpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Varun Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Vivek Prasad

READ | We have hope of beating India until the last second, says Japan’s coach

- Japan coach Siegfried Aikman vowed that his team would try to put its best foot forward against India, and wouldn't lose hope until the end.

READ | India eyes perfect game against Japan in semifinal

- As India eyes perfect game against Japan, coach Graham Reid believed the team's forward line would be the biggest concern.

 

- Indian dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh will play his 100th game. Coincidentally, he made his debut at the Kalinga stadium in 2015, against Japan.

- India has faced Japan 83 times, and has won 75 matches, while Japan has won four. Four games ended in draws. India has also scored a whopping 315 goals against its Asian counterpart. (Courtesy: B.G. Joshi)

READ | India seals semis spot with 10-0 victory over Uzbekistan

- India booked its place in the semifinal after beating Uzbekistan, 10-0 in its last fixture. Akashdeep Singh had scored a hat-trick in the match, while Varun Kumar and Mandeep Singh scored two goals each.

- India takes on Japan in the second semifinal of the FIH Series Finals in less than an hour, at the Kalinga Stadium.