India win Asian Games hockey gold, book Rio berth

India win Asian Games hockey gold, book Rio berth

By: || Updated: 01 Jan 1970 12:00 AM
Incheon: Goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh was the show stopper in the 17th Asian Games hockey final making two brilliant saves in the shoot-outs to give India a 4-2 win via penalties against arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan, that ended 16-year wait for the gold medal, at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium here Thursday thus gaining a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Sreejesh blocked two Pakistan's strike in the shoot-outs after the regulation play yielded 1-1 tie as two-time champions India won the gold after 16 years and also were rewarded with a berth for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

With both teams looking at breaching each other's defence early, it was Pakistan who were successful in the third minute of the game when they penetrated the Indian defence as Muhammad Rizwan Sr. scored for his team. While the Indians had the early set-back, it did not deter them to get into action and attack. The entire first quarter saw the Indians create many scoring opportunities but were unable to convert.

India got their equaliser through Kothajit Singh's deflection in the 27th minute. It stunned the Pakistan team as they had successfully kept the Indians from scoring in almost the entire 2nd quarter.

Later on, both the teams on numerous occasions came close to break the deadlock but failed to do so, stretching the game into shoot-outs.

Akashdeep Singh took the first strike in the penalty Shoot-Out and netted the ball successfully, giving India the initial lead. Pakistan's Abdul Khan looked confident but was unable to pass through Sreejesh, which got Pakistan on the back foot. Set-piece specialist Rupinderpal Singh scored effortlessly, giving India a 2-0 lead as Muhammad Waqas made it 1-2 for Pakistan.

Manpreet Singh failed to convert India's third strike, giving a breather to Pakistan. But goalkeeper Sreejesh yet again stepped up to foil Muhammad Umar's effort.

Defender Birendra Lakra scored the third goal to give India a formidable 3-1 advantage which was reduced to 2-3 when veteran Pakistan striker Shafqat Rasool converted his team's fourth chances.

Indian mid-fielder Dharamvir Singh brilliantly scored the last strike to seal it for India with a 4-2 scoreline triggering wild celebrations in the stadium.

It was after 32 years that both India and Pakistan were facing off in the Asian Games final. The last time when the neighbours faced in the 1982 Asian Games final, India were humiliated 1-7 in Delhi.

Pakistan are the most accomplished team in the Asian Games, having won eight gold medals since 1958.

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