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India stun champs Korea, to enter semis
P R Sreejesh produced a brilliant display under the bar as two-time champions India stunned title holders South Korea 2-0 in a Pool B match to breeze into the semifinals of the Asia Cup hockey tournament, here on Monday. India's arch-rivals Pakistan have already made it to the last four stage from Pool A after beating hosts Malaysia 4-1.
Ipoh (PTI): P R Sreejesh produced a brilliant display under the bar as two-time champions India stunned title holders South Korea 2-0 in a Pool B match to breeze into the semifinals of the Asia Cup hockey tournament, here on Monday. India's arch-rivals Pakistan have already made it to the last four stage from Pool A after beating hosts Malaysia 4-1. The Indians put up an inspired performance and scored a goal in each half through V R Raghunath (6th minute) and Mandeep Singh (65th) to pick up their second win in the eight-nation event. India, who need to win the tournament to qualify for next year's World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands, had thumped minnows Oman 8-0 in their tournament opener.
The Indians started brightly and dominated the early exchanges. In the first half India played possession hockey and utilised both the flanks to build up their attacks. The Indians need to thank their goalkeeper Sreejesh as he made as many as six-seven clear saves to keep a clean slate for his team. He also earned the man-of-the-match award.
The Indians stunned Korea early in the match taking the lead through Raghunath. The well built defender converted India's first penalty corner with a powerful low dragflick to the right corner of the Korean goal past, beating goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho. But thereafter, the Indians should consider themselves lucky not to have conceded a goal as Korea put the Indian defence under continuous pressure with repeated raids.
The Koreans earned as many five penalty corners in the opening half but failed to convert a single one. While an onrushing Gurmail Singh blocked the Nam Hyun Woo’s flick, an outstretched Sreejesh made one of his few brilliant saves from Korea’s second short corner a few minutes later.Five minutes from the break, India had a golden chance to double their lead but an unmarked Malak Singh shot wide from close range.