India reiterated its overall superiority to defeat Asian Games champions Japan 6-0 to keep its unbeaten record in the Hero Asian Men’s Champions Trophy Hockey Tournament at Dhaka on Sunday. With this win, third from four matches, India finished at the top of the table with 10 points. Intriguingly, the outcome of this match puts India against Japan in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Earlier Pakistan beat Bangladesh to earn the right to challenge Korea in the other semi-final.
India continued its unbeaten-run, getting past Japan with a 6-0 win with drag flicker Harmanpreet Singh scoring twice (10′, 53′). Dilpreet Singh (23′), Jarmanpreet Singh (34′), Sumit (46′), and Shamsher Singh (54′) scored the other goals as Team India picked up a big win. India are now in contention for its third consecutive title at the Hero Asian Champions Trophy, having won the prestigious tournament in 2016 and joint winners in 2018.
Team India’s dynamic front line started troubling Japanese defence right from the start , as it earned a number of penalty corners early on in the first quarter. Defender Harmanpreet Singh made use of the opportunity in the 10th minute by giving his team a lead. India was virtually all over the Japanese circle in the final few minutes of the first quarter. Young forward Shilanand Lakra and experienced striker Lalit Kumar Upadhyay managed to get shots on target but were denied by Japan goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa.
In the second quarter started, Japan started working hard to find the equaliser. In the 21st minute, Japan earned a penalty corner, but once again, the Indian defence was up to the task and denied Japan the equaliser. Dilpreet Singh continued his goal-scoring form, as he put the ball back into the nets in the 23rd minute to score the 2nd goal for India. Japan got another penalty corner in the dying minutes of the second quarter but were again unable to dent India’s defence.
After half-time, Japan started showing attacking intent to cover up the deficit quickly and immediately attempted to make circle penetrations. But India continued to defend well, leaving no gaps for Japan forwards to get a shot away. Jarmanpreet Singh scored from a reverse hit in the 34th minute to extend India’s lead to 3-0. India goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made two important saves in the third quarter with Kenta Tanaka making threatening penetrations inside India’s circle, and India maintained their clean sheet going into the final 15 minutes of play.
Early on in the fourth and final quarter, Sumit scored the fourth goal in the 46th minute after India surprised Japan’s defence with quick penetrations and passes. Japan’s defence faltered, awarding India a late penalty corner, and Harmanpreet Singh converted it into a goal with ease, adding in the 5th goal for India in the 53rd minute. A minute later, Shilanand Lakra combined with Shamsher Singh as the latter scored the 6th goal for India in the 54th minute. Japan made penetrating runs in the final few minutes, but Team India held its ground to come out with another clean win .