India crashed out of the Hero Junior Men's Hockey World Cup after being held 3-3 by Korea in a must-win Pool C match at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi today.
The draw means both India and Korea finished their pool engagement with four points apiece but it was not enough for the home team to qualify for the quarterfinals as they needed a win today.
The draw, however, was more than enough for the Koreans to progress to the knock-out stage as they have a better goal difference than the Indians.
Korea finished second while Netherlands topped the pool with three wins from as many games. The Dutch thrashed lowly Canada 7-0 in their last league encounter earlier in the day.
Korea rode on a brilliant hat-trick from star drag-flicker Seungju You (16th, 58th and 60th) to shut the door on India. Trailing 1-3 at one stage, Korea showed great fighting spirit as Seungju You converted two set pieces to turn the game around.
For India, Gurjinder Singh (32nd and 35th) scored two goals through penalty corners, while the other came through a field effort from Mandeep Singh (45th).
Fully aware that only a win can secure their place in the quarterfinals, the Indians started on an attacking mode and earned a penalty corner as early as in the second minute of the match but Amit Rohidas' low flick was kept away by an agile Seyoung Lee in Korean goal.
The Koreans were not to be left behind as they matched the Indians stick by stick. The hosts should consider themselves lucky as Korea came tantalisingly close to taking the lead when Seungju You's high drag-flick from Korea's first penalty corner was denied by the cross bar.
In the 11th minute, Mandeep Singh wasted a golden opportunity to put India ahead as he shot over from the top of Korean circle with only the goalie to beat.
India enjoyed the lions share of possession in the opening period but it was Korea who stunned the sparse home crowd present at the stadium by taking the lead in the 16th minute.