Goalkeeper S Sreejesh stole the limelight with two crucial saves as India defeated Pakistan 4-2 via penalty shootout in a nerve-racking final to clinch the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament title on Sunday.
The high-voltage clash was marred by Pakistan coach's outburst against the Indian players. Any infringement from the Indian side, and the rival coach was ready with the ‘F’ word.
Rajpal Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Yuvraj Walmiki and Sarvanjit Singh scored for India in the shootout, while Muhammad Rizwan and Waseem Ahmed sounded the boards for Pakistan after both sides were locked goalless in regulation and extra time.
Earlier, both teams had ample opportunities to finish off the match in regulation time. Pakistan earned seven penalty-corners to India's one, but failed to beat the staunch defence and goalkeeper Sreejesh.
Guangzhou Asian Games champions Pakistan were initially more attacking, pushing the Indian defence back. Shakeel Abbassi made some fine runs into the circle but V Raghunath stood out with his tackling and clearance. It was a tense match with a few skirmishes between players. SV Sunil was the first to be shown the green card for a rough tackle.
It was a day when India found it difficult to hold on to the ball in the midfield. In the 29th minute, India had their first penalty-corner but Ignace Tirkey failed to trap neatly.
Pakistan earned a clutch of penalty-corners in the second half, but still let the match drift towards the shoot-out. After a tense struggle of 15 minutes in extra time, it finally came down to the shoot-out.
India coach, Michael Nobbs, was in tears after the match.