Gurjant Singh's last-minute equalizer helped India secure a fighting 1-1 draw against Korea in their first Super 4 stage match of the Asia Cup hockey on Wednesday. India dominated most parts of the match, but Korea enjoyed the upper hand when Lee Jungjun hit the first goal of the afternoon.
So far unbeaten in the tournament, India looked like the most convincing team with all the bases covered but the defensive Koreans gave the Manpreet Singh-led side a reality check yesterday by coming tantalizingly close to registering a win.
Akashdeep Singh missed a fantastic chance for India in the first quarter of the game after he failed to connect the ball from close range with only the Korean goalkeeper to beat. Although India secured the only penalty corner of the match just at the stroke of the first quarter, it was wasted as they went for variation.
The second quarter also continued in a similar goalless fashion, but Lee Jungjun cracked the Indian defense code in the 41st minute of the game to give Korea the lead. Four minutes later in the third quarter, a brilliant run from Satbir Singh set up a fine ball for SV Sunil inside the Korean circle but the Indian striker failed to get a good touch, missing a golden opportunity to draw level.
Despite trailing by a goal, the Indian team attacked all the way in the fourth and final quarter but were undone by the smart hockey played by the opposition. The Korean defense almost covered their circle completely and did not give the Indian strikers any space to create chances. Four minutes from the final hooter, India took goalkeeper Suraj Karkera off for Gurjant Singh and the move paid rich dividends as the Punjab lad finally pulled off the much-needed equalizer in the last minute of the match.
India will next play Malaysia in their second Super 4 stage match on Thursday.