India beat Korea in shootout to finish 3rd in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
India produced a spirited performance to beat Korea 4-1 in the penalty shootout, after both the teams were locked at 2-2 at regulation time, to finish third in the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Sunday.other Updated: Apr 16, 2015 13:23 IST
India produced a spirited performance to beat Korea 4-1 in the penalty shootout, after both the teams were locked at 2-2 at regulation time, to finish third in the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Sunday.
The win is sure to act as a morale booster for the Indian team, which is witnessing a transition phase after new chief coach Paul van Ass took over from Terry Walsh barely a month ago.
The third place finish also marks a relatively good beginning for Van Ass, who was on his maiden assignment with the Indian team.
For India, who had earlier drawn 1-1 with Korea in the league stages, the victory came on the back of a stunning 4-2 win over world champions and title holders Australia at the Azlan Shah Stadium.
India scored both their goals though field strikes from last match's hat-trick man Nikkin Thimmaiah (10th minute) and Satbir Singh (22nd), while Korea scored from penalty corners converted by You Hyosik (20th) and Nam Hyunwoo (29th).
India's vice-captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh had a fantastic day under the bar as he not only made numerous saves in regulation time, but also turned out to be India's hero in the shootout, denying two Korean efforts to help his side register the victory.
The only blemish for India today was penalty corners. The Sardar Singh-led side failed to secure a single set piece but their backline as usual crumbled under pressure and gave away seven short corners.
Both the teams were slow to get off the blocks and were sloppy in the initial few minutes. It was India who had the first shy at the goal in the sixth minute, but Akashdeep Singh shot wide after a scramble inside the circle.
Three minutes later, Korea secured their first penalty corner but Nam Hyunwoo's effort couldn't get past the defence of an agile Indian goalkeeper, Sreejesh.
The Indians took the lead in the next minute through last match's hero Nikkin.
Dharamvir Singh started the move and passed the ball to SK Uthappa, who beat a few Malaysian defenders to enter the circle from the right flank and then neatly pushed the ball towards Nikkin and he made no mistake in slapping the ball home from close range.