Dhaka, Oct 18 (IANS) Forward Gurjant Singh’s late goal helped India to get a 1-1 draw against South Korea in a second round match of the Hero Asia Cup hockey championship here on Wednesday.
Jungjun Lee put the defending champions ahead in the 41st minute. India were staring at a defeat until Gurjant drove from a tight angle in a goal-melee in the 59th minute to secure a point.
Before that, India, the highest-ranked team in the tournament, had plenty of opportunities but the scoring touch was missing.
India opened the game patiently, rotating the ball between themselves and waiting for an opening into the Korean defence.
Despite the several circle penetrations, it took till the 14th minute for the first real chance to materialise when India won the first penalty corner.
The opportunity went amiss though. Harmanpreet Singh attempted a variation set piece, but a flick to injector Ramandeep Singh was blocked.
Earlier, South Korea’s Mookyoung Lee made a brave attempt when he dribbled into India’s circle and made a diving effort to take a shot on goal. But he was wide off the mark.
After ending the first quarter in a stalemate, the South Korean defence continued to test the Indian forwards as they allowed little room for penetration.
The Indian defence stayed resolute in their circle to deny their feisty opponents a lead. The half-time score read 0-0.
Though India attacked constantly, getting closer each time towards a breakthrough, it didn’t help their cause as the South Koreans constantly intercepted their passes.
A close chance in the 40th minute saw Amit Rohidas assist Akashdeep Singh in the circle but the forward could not fashion a deflection.
One minute later, Jungjun fashioned a chance out of nothing, spinning away from his markers to unleash a shot on the goal; beating India goalkeeper Akash Chikte to the post and giving the South Koreans a 1-0 lead.
Down to the final quarter with time ticking away, India attacked in droves but South Korea stayed firm.
India removed their goalkeeper with less than four minutes to go. India appealed for a penalty corner in the 57th minute but the video umpired ruled otherwise.
But the following minute, a good counter by Sardar Singh saw the ball pass to Gurjant who won India their second penalty corner. But a video referral by South Korea denied India the chance.
As tension built up at the Moulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium, spectators were on their toes.
India held their nerve to come up with a brilliant attack that saw Akashdeep take a shot on goal. It bounced off only to find Gurjant close in on the goal and finish the job for India. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with both teams splitting points.
Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne-coached India will take on Malaysia on Thursday.