India pips Malaysia to win Asia Cup after a decade

India held on to a one-goal lead to chalk out a 2-1 victory over Malaysia and clinch the coveted Asia Cup after a decade.

The Indian players celebrate a goal during their clash against Malaysia on Sunday.   -  PTI

India ended its 10-year wait for continental triumph when it beat a gutsy Malaysia 2-1 in a nail-bitting final to clinch its third Asia Cup hockey title, here on Sunday.

India, which won the Asia Cup last time in 2007 in Chennai, scored from field efforts through Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) to dash Malaysian 
hopes. Malaysia was in summit clash for the first time since  tournament's inception.

The ever-improving Malaysians, however, fought valiantly and didn't give up for a single minute. Its efforts bore fruit in the 50th minute when Shahril Saabah pulled one goal 
back.

AS IT HAPPENED

The Indians, ranked sixth in the world, were in for nervous last 10 minutes but the defence did enough to hold on to the lead.

Strong start for the Indians

The Indians came out all guns blazing and took the lead as early as the third minute through Ramandeep, who scored from a rebound after his initial deflection from S. V. Sunil's cross hit the post.

Chinglensana Singh's reverse hit from close range then went wide as India wasted a golden chance.

 

India's Asia Cup 2017 results

Pool Stage:

India 5-1 Japan

India 7-0 Bangladesh

India  3-1 Pakistan

Super 4s

India 1-1 South Korea

India 6-2 Malaysia

India  4-0 Pakistan

Final:

India 2-1 Malaysia

 

It was a battle fought on even keel between the two teams as Malaysia secured its first penalty corner in the 13th minute but wasted it.

Harmanpreet Singh was then denied by Razie Rahim as he made a goal-line save to keep out the Indian defender's flick from India's first penalty corner. Minutes later, Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam made a double save -- first kept out Akashdeep's shot and then denied Amit Rohidas from the resultant set piece.

A minute before the half time, Lalit doubled India's lead when he beautifully deflected home Sumit's reverse hit cross from the left flank.

READ: Marijne and Manpreet savour Asia Cup victory

After the change of ends, Lalit and Ramandeep came tantalisingly close to extending India's tally of goals but their shots from inside the D were off target.

Down by two goals, the Malaysians came out all guns blazing in the fourth and final quarter in search of the equaliser and gave the Indian defence a run for its money.

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After wasting its second penalty corner, Malaysia came back into the match when Shahril scored from close range in the 50th minute as the Indian defence wilted under pressure for a second.

It was nervous last 10 minutes for the Indians as Malaysia mounted attack after attack in search of an equaliser. In the form of their its penalty corner, Malaysia had a golden opportunity to take the match into shoot-out but the Indian defence stood tall to maintain its slender lead.

With three minutes from the hooter, Malaysia withdrew goalkeeper Subramaniam for an extra player but the move failed to yield desired result as the Indians managed to hold on to its lead for a famous victory.

Great start for Marijne

For India' new chief coach Marijne Sjoerd, it was perfect start to his stint as the Asia Cup was his maiden tournament in charge of the senior national side.

The top-ranked Indians finished unbeaten in the tournament, having won all their matches except for the 1-1 draw against Korea in th Super 4 stage.

Today's win was India's second victory over Malaysia in  the tournament, having beaten them 6-2 in the Super-4 stage.

For Malaysia, it was its best result in the tournament. It had earlier won the bronze in the 2007 edition of the event in Chennai.

Pakistan won the bronze medal after edging out Korea 6-3 in the third-fourth place play-off match earlier in the day.

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