China retained the gold medal and completed a hat-trick of triumphs in the Asian Games women's hockey competition from 2002.

In an absorbing title fight that stretched into extra time and tie-breaker after 0-0 deadlock, China won on penalty strokes, converting all the five against the four by South Korea for a total of 5-4.

In a contest where the teams were equally matched quite a few pulsating moments arose. If Korea held the advantage in the first half forcing two penalty corners the trend clearly shifted on the side of China.

The goal-keepers on both sides made a few nice saves. China's Zhang Yimeng stopped two powerful shots by Lee Seon Ok in the first half. The Korean keeper, Moon Younghul, thwarted more than one attempt by Fu Baorong and Zhao Yudiao.

India loses

India returns empty handed, surrendering the bronze won in 2006 to Japan in a grim battle that went into extra time. Keiko Manabe struck the golden goal to put an end to the laborious encounter.

India lost 3-0 to Japan during the league phase.

At the receiving end for the major part, the team survived intense pressure exerted through 10 penalty corners and quite a few raids. All these were due to the splendid work done under the bar by the custodian, Dipika Murty. The strikes by Ai Murakami, who attempted a majority of the penalty corners, were either blocked or deflected by Dipika.

India frittered away a few chances. Surinder Kaur in the early part and Saba Anjum in extra-time missed opportunities, which were not too difficult to convert for players of their stature.

Coach Sandeep Somesh conceded that India missed the link against Korea in the league stage and only struggled to recover since then. He admitted a lot needs to be worked out in the area of developing fitness.

Final positions: 1.China, 2. South Korea, 3. Japan, 4. India, 5. Malaysia, 6. Thailand, 7. Kazakhstan.

Thursday's matches: Men: (9-10): Hong Kong China v Singapore (6.30 a.m.); (7-8): Oman v Bangladesh (7 a.m.); (5-6): China v Japan (9.30 a.m.); (3-4) India v Korea (11-30 a.m.); Final: Pakistan v Malaysia (2.30 p.m.).

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