Defending champion India came from behind to beat Malaysia 3-1 in its second Group B match at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Bahru on Saturday.
After India’s opening game ended in a nail-biting 3-3 draw against Pakistan, it looked to bag the elusive three points with a confident start in the first quarter against Malaysia. Forward Angad Bir Singh led India’s charge in the forward-line, working in tandem with Aditya to set up goal-scoring chances. But an alert Malaysian goalie Rafaizul Mohamad stopped India from taking a lead. The host broke the deadlock after a splendid goal by Suhaimi Irfan Shahmie in the 13th minute.
The first few minutes of the second quarter saw India create chances in the circle with Angad winning two back-to-back Penalty Corners (PCs). India won three more PCs as the quarter progressed but a resolute Malaysian defence kept India at bay. India’s breakthrough finally came in the 28th minute when Aditya Lalage nudged in a blazing cross from Vishnukant Singh to score the equalizer as the first half ended at 1-1.
Malaysia began the third quarter aggressively and was rewarded with a PC. However, the Indian defence held firm and prevented Malaysia from scoring again. The following minute, India got a PC thanks to skipper Uttam Singh and Gurjot’s front-row combination, but Amandeep Lakra missed the shot. In the 37th minute, Uttam’s fine circle skills earned India another PC, and this time Lakra was on point, powering the flick past Malaysian goalie Rafaizul. With a 2-1 lead, Uttam continued to exploit the wings, initiating a blazing run down the right wing, picking out Aditya Lalage in the centre of the circle, but the keeper was quick to rush out and swat the shot away.
The fourth quarter was dominated by India. Aditya attempted to extend India’s lead in the 50th minute with a shot, but Rafaizul saved it. As the quarter progressed, India’s attack continued, and it was rewarded when Gurjot Singh won a PC with seven minutes remaining in the game, and Rohit stepped up to double India’s lead as it won the game 3-1.
India moved to top of the points table in Group B with four points after two games. Pakistan, which beat New Zealand 3-2, also has four points but is behind India due to inferior goal difference.
India next faces New Zealand in its final group match on Monday.
Group A has Germany, Australia, Great Britain and South Africa. Top two teams from each group will progress to the semifinals.
- Mexican Open: Second-seeded Holger Rune eases past American Michael Mmoh
- Argentina to play exhibition against Costa Rica instead of Nigeria in Los Angeles on March 26
- A low-ranked American tennis player banned after testing positive for marijuana at a tournament
- Man Utd boss Ten Hag doesn’t want Ratcliffe vote of confidence
- Bundesliga boss says rejection of investor deal ‘bad for the league’