India beats Pak 4-3 on way to final

Defending champions India defeated Pakistan 4-3 on Thursday to set up a final with South Korea at the Asian Games men's field hockey competition.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Defending champions India defeated Pakistan 4-3 on Thursday to set up a final with South Korea at the Asian Games men's field hockey competition. Two-time winner South Korea, losing finalist to India in 1998 at Bangkok, entered the final for the third successive Asian Games by beating Malaysia 2-0 in the other semifinal. Six players were sent to the sin-bin by Australian umpire Murray Grime. Indian captain Dilip Tirkey, Daljit Singh and Deepak Thakur were shown the yellow card and underwent temporary suspensions. Pakistan's Muhammad Saqlain and Khalid Salim also got yellow cards. But the biggest damage was caused by wing striker Muhammad Nadeem's red card that reduced Pakistan to 10 men for the last 25 minutes. It marked the second time India has beaten Pakistan in 11 matches between the two in the Asian Games since 1958. India's only victory over Pakistan, seven-time Asian Games gold medallists, was during its first title win in 1966. India took the lead three times only to see Pakistan bounce back. Pillay dominates Veteran striker Pillay, who captained the Indian team that won the 1998 Asian Games gold, twice surprised the Pakistan defense after getting crosses from the right flank in the sixth and 22nd minutes. Indian coach Rajinder Singh praised Pillay for playing the game-maker's role. "Pillay played one of the finest matches of his life," Rajinder Singh said. "I'd promised to bring back the gold to India when we left for Busan. We're on track to accomplish our aim." Pakistan's Sohail Abbas sent two soaring shots into the net in the ninth and 26th minutes to make the score level at halftime. Daljit Singh again put India ahead by capitalizing on a rebound from the goalkeeper, who had blocked Jugraj Singh's reverse penalty corner shot in the 44th minute. Pakistan's desperate attempts resulted in a goal in the 66th minute when right winger Kashif Jawad's cross was deflected into the goal by Muhammad Shabbir. Indian striker Gagan Ajit Singh settled the close match with a breakaway goal with three minutes to play. He picked up pivot Dhanraj Pillay's angular ball on top of the striking circle and flicked it over onrushing goalkeeper Muhammad Qasim. Pakistan had beaten India 4-3 in the bronze medal playoff during the Champions Trophy in Cologne, but India won 3-2 in their league encounter during that tournament. Pakistan's coach Tahir Zaman blamed the umpires for his team's defeat. "The umpires did us in," he said. "Nadeem's red card was unfair. A red card is flashed for a serious offense. We had to play with one player less for virtually the entire second half." The final will be played Saturday, when Malaysia and Pakistan will also play for the bronze medal. (AP)