India secured the top spot in the pool stages of the Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as they defeated South Korea 4-1 in their fifth and final round robin match on Wednesday. The Indian team secured three points through Harmanpreet Singh's hat-trick and Gurjant Singh's 10th-minute strike.
Having played a goalless draw against Malaysia on Tuesday, the Indian team looked to cement their position at the top of the Pool Standings by attacking the South Koreans from the opening whistle. The Indian team maintained possession in the opening few minutes and were awarded their first Penalty Corner in the 5th minute which was fiercely struck in the top right corner by drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, to give India the lead. In the following minutes, South Korea seemed content in sitting back and maintaining a compact structure, which made it difficult for the Indians to break through but in the 9th minute, Striker Akashdeep Singh had a chance to score but saw his shot blazed over the crossbar. Good game-reading in the following minute saw the World No. 5 team extend their lead to two goals as they scored through a counter-attack in which Harmanpreet Singh found Gurjant Singh inside the South Korean circle with a precise long pass, the young striker obliging by making a turn and shooting into the top left corner with a tomahawk.
India started the second quarter with some high pressing again but it was South Korea's turn to open their account as they scored in the 20th minute against the run of play when a clearance by Surender Kumar was intercepted by a Korean player and passed onto Lee Seungil on the right side of the Indian circle, and the Korean Captain struck a vicious shot from a tight angle to beat PR Sreejesh and make the scores 2-1. Two minutes later, South Korea won their first Penalty Corner but the resulting execution was blocked by the first rusher, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam. Both the teams had their chances before the half-time break but neither could produce the goods in the final third as India took their 2-1 lead into the interval.
The third period started on an anxious note for India as the South Koreans scored inside 29 seconds, but the goal was disallowed after a successful referral by the Indian team. Another referral five minutes later, but this time for the World No. 14 side saw them win another Penalty Corner, but the resulting execution was well defended by Indian Captain Manpreet Singh who saw away the danger. Both the teams battled for possession throughout the third quarter but could not find any real opening
On 27th October 2018, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team will play their Semi-Final match of the competition.