Tokyo Olympics: India thumps Japan 5-3 to finish second in group stage

India's third successive win puts it in good stead ahead of the quarterfinal where it will face the third-placed team in Pool B.

India players celebrate after scoring against India during its final pool A game against Japan on Friday.   -  AP

The Indian men’s hockey team outclassed host Japan 5-3 in its last group game of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday to finish second in Pool A.

The side’s third successive win puts it in good stead ahead of the quarterfinal where it will face Great Britain.

India got off to a fine start as Harmanpreet Singh struck his fourth goal of the campaign to put his side ahead in the 13th minute. Manpreet Singh’s men doubled their lead within two minutes of the start of the second quarter with Gurjant Singh scoring from a Simrajeet Singh pass.

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The Japanese reacted quickly to peg one back in the 19th minute. A lapse in the Indian defence saw Kenta Tanaka latch onto the ball and thump home to reduce his side’s deficit. The Indians went into the interval with a slender one-goal lead, which was nullified in the 33rd minute when Kota Watanabe found the back of the net. However, it took less than 60 seconds for India to take the lead again as Shamsher Singh helped Nilakanta Sharma’s shot past the goalkeeper.

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India dominated possession and created chances upfront in a constant endeavour to restore its two-goal advantage. And the goal came in the 51st minute when Nilakanta turned scorer this time and Gurjant, then, converted a penalty corner to score his second of the evening five minutes later. Though, Kazuma Murata pulled one back with a minute left, it was too little too late as India secured a morale-boosting victory ahead of the all-important knockout rounds.

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