Goalkeeper S. Sreejesh stole the limelight with two crucial saves as India defeated Pakistan 4-2 in the penalty shoot-out in a nerve-wrecking final to clinch the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament here on Sunday.
The high-voltage summit clash was marred by Pakistan coach's unwarranted action of constantly abusing Indian players from the roof of the stadium. Whenever there was an infringement from the Indian side, he abused liberally. And whenever the umpires blew against India, he hollered ‘Thank You'.
Rajpal Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Yuvraj Walmiki and Sarvanjit Singh scored for India in the penalty shootout while Muhammad Rizwan and Waseem Ahmed sounded the board for Pakistan after both the sides were locked goalless in the regular and extra time.
India started the shootout on a wrong note when Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Shah saved the shot from Gurwinder Singh Chandi. Sreejesh then came to the fore with a save off Haseem Abdul Khan. It was then Mujtaba's turn and he neatly sent the ball past Shah to give India 1-0 lead.
Pakistan equalised when Rizwan scored but Indian captain Rajpal slotted the ball home to give his side 2-1 up. Then came the crucial save by Sreejesh as he stopped Shafqat Rasool from scoring, advancing and taking the shot on the pads.
Yuvraj made it 3-1 and the Pakistan veteran Waseem cut the scores to 3-2 but Sarvanjit's conversion past Shah ensured India ran out champion.
Malaysia bags bronze
A last-minute goal by Firhan Ashari helped Malaysia beat Japan and clinch the bronze medal. Just when it seemed that the match would go into extra-time, Malaysia moved in from the right flank and the cross found Ashari on top of the circle. He tapped the ball to his left and, with a powerful reverse shot, beat the Japanese goalkeeper.
South Korea avoided the wooden spoon beating host China 2-1 in the play-offs for the 5th-6th spot.
Korea scored its opening goal in the 10th minute when Jong Hyun Jang converted a penalty corner. The lead was enhanced in the 28th minute when Ju Hun Kim slammed in a goal. China managed to score a consolation goal in the 62nd minute through Yixian Liu. The jubilant Malaysians celebrated their bronze medal while the Japanese crumbled on the turf, completely shocked.
Meanwhile in New Delhi, Hockey India will felicitate the Indian team on Tuesday for winning the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy. “It's big moment for Indian hockey.,” Hockey India Secretary-General Narinder Batra said.
Keywords: Asian Champions Trophy