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Asian Hockey Champions Trophy: India edge Japan 3-2 to seal final berth

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Muscat [Oman], Oct 28 : India secured their passage to the final of the men’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018 after they defeated Japan 3-2 in their semifinal fixture at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Saturday. The world number five team faced tough competition from the Japanese team, but held their nerve to score three goals via Gurjant Singh (19’), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (44’) and Dilpreet Singh (55’); while Hirotaka Wakuri (22’) and Hirotaka Zendana (56’) scored for Japanin the fierce encounter.

The defending champions started the match on the front-foot, creating a number of opportunities inside the first 10 minutes, although, failing to convert them to a score. World number 16 Japan played well to deny the Indians and ended the first quarter with scores tied at 0-0.

The start of the second quarter saw Nilakanta Sharma having the chance to put India ahead in the 18th minute, only for the midfielder to fluff his shot. However, some clever play from striker Gurjant Singh saw him collect the ball on the left side of the circle and make a great turn to shoot, with his shot making its way past Yoshikawa and into the back of the net to give India the lead in the 19th minute.

On the 22nd minute mark, a mistake from Surender Kumar saw Japan win their first Penalty Corner, which worked from them as Shota Yamada played in the ball into the second castle, where Hirotaka Wakuri was present to deflect the pass into the back of the net to make it 1-1. Japan played the third quarter with a more defensive approach as they absorbed all the pressure inflicted on them by the Indian team.

In the 44th minute the Indian team managed to get the lead again when Vice-Captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam found the back of the net from inside the circle to make it 2-1. India created chances in the final quarter to find the all-important third goal. In the 55th minute Dilpreet Singhproduced a moment of magic to give India their third goal. He collected the ball inside the circle, and shot into the far corner after wriggling away from two Japanese defenders.

However, a great team move from the Japanese team saw them winning a penalty.

corner in the next minute, which was well converted by Hirotaka Zendana as he smashed the ball into the top right corner to ensure a nervy finish for the Indian team. However, the efforts of the Indian defence to see out the match were enough for the world number five team to register their place in the final of the competition. India will play the final against Pakistan on October 28.

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