Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:35

The last match of pool play between India and Korea was eagerly expected by the Indian fans and media. The local team absolutely needed to win to qualify for the quarter-finals, when a loss or even a draw would push Korea through.

India was immediately on the attack and forced a penalty-corner in the 3rd minute, but Lee Seyoung easily saved the low drag flick. Korea were equally unsuccessful on their first penalty-corner when You Seungju crashed his powerful drag-flick on the crossbar. The match was launched on a high tempo and the crowd was in for a thriller!

Korea had another penalty-corner opportunity but You Seungju was again a tad too high. He however managed to make the necessary adjustment and was on target in the 16th minute, silencing the crowd with a flick over the head of Sushant Tirkey in the Indian goal.

Atmosphere was hot in the stands and on the pitch and Korea picked up two yellow cards in the battle. They did not seem bothered by the situation and even created a good scoring chance while playing short two men. India saw many of their passes going astray and wasted another corner chance before Gurjinder Singh was finally on target on yet another penalty-corner three minutes from time.

India forced another penalty-corner literally in the last second of the period, and Gurjinder Singh sent the crowd into raptures with his second strike of the night to give his team a one-goal lead and a glimpse of a possible qualification for the quarter-finals going into the break.     

With Korea back at full strength, play was intense and exciting. India earned another penalty-corner on a video-referral but Gurjinder Singh changed his option and propelled the ball wide. The crowd did not need to wait too long as Mandeep Singh scored in the 45th minute, this time from the field.

The Indian players were now on a roll and Korea had trouble keeping their head above water. Lee Seyoung in the Korean goal was peppered left and right but the Indians did not manage to deepen the gap, leaving the door opened for a Korean come-back. It happened in the 58th and 60th minute, with two more penalty-corners by You Seungju for a hat-trick that suddenly reversed the dynamic of the match.

Now obliged to score, India depleted their defense and Korea had an open-net chance but Ji Woocheon incredibly missed his deflection. The end of match was torrid for the Korean defense but they survived the final rush and were soon dancing to celebrate their qualification for the quarter-finals, while the Indian players were dejected, rueing their missed opportunities early in the second period.  

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