An aggressive India thrashed China 4-1 in their second Group A match to inch closer to a semifinal berth in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament here.

India, who led 2-0 at half time, now top the group jointly with New Zealand, who beat Belgium 4-1.

After the disappointing draw against the Kiwis in their lung-opener, India were promptly on the attack against China and earned a series of penalty corners.

They missed the first one but Prabhjot Singh was well positioned to collect the rebound on the second and he opened the scoring in the seventh minute.

India kept attacking the Chinese goal relentlessly and left the rival defense flummoxed with swift passes but Rifeng Su stood tall and skillfully saved some dangerous shots from close range as well as a strong penalty-corner attempt by Dhananjay Mahadik.

Chinese forwardline missed its chances to equalise on two successive penalty-corner attempts.

Play slowed down for a while after that until the Indian forwardline stole a ball in midfield in the final minute of the first half.

Even before the Chinese defence could react, Rajpal Singh deflected the ball into the goal from close range to increase India’s lead to 2-0 in the 35th minute.

The Indians found it tougher to penetrate the rival defence in the second half and China reduced the gap in the 41st minute with a penalty-stroke powerfully shot by Yi Song.

Despite a yellow card to Yongxin Cui, India could not score and were also lucky to survive another penalty-corner unscathed.

It took a penalty-corner strike in the 56th minute for Sarwanjit Singh, pouncing on a rebound, to finally increase India’s tally and build back a more comfortable two-goal cushion.

China increased the pressure in the final minutes and had another good chance on a penalty-corner after a yellow card to Sardar Singh.

But their elaborate combination ended up wide and India sealed a 4-1 win after a last minute goal by Shivendra Singh.

After a rest day today, India will play Belgium in their final group match tomorrow. Top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals.

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