Hong Kong:India's hopes of retaining their title vanished into thin air after they were outplayed 2-5 by Korea in the semifinals of the women's Asia Cup hockey tournament on Saturday.
Kim Da Rae struck home a brace while Kim Jong Eun, Cheon Seul Ki, Seo Hye Jin netted a goal each for the Koreans, while captain Mamta Kharab scored twice for India at the King's Park here.
In the final, Korea will meet Japan whereas India will take on fifth-ranked China, who were toppled by sixth-placed Japan 2-1 in another pulsating semifinal, in the play-off for the third place.
India could not match the pace and aggression of the Koreans despite their effort to slow down their eighth-ranked opponents.
Korea, however, gradually began to take control after getting more freedom in the midfield, forcing two penalty corners in the 11th and 16th minutes which were saved by India.
But the Indians gave in to the relentless pressure. In the 22nd minute, Korean forwards stormed into India's circle to draw goalkeeper Marita Tirkey and allow Rae to score the first goal.
Three minutes later, Korea went 2-0 up through a Eun goal after a mix-up by Indian defenders inside the D.
After that, it became obvious that India had a mountain the climb to stay in the match.
Eleven minutes into the second half, Korea struck again when Cheon Seul Ki scored an impressive field goal to make it 3-0.
India responded by forcing a penalty corner in the 49th minute. Mamta converted it to give India their first goal.
Korea, however, gave it back immediately to go 4-1 ahead with a field goal by Seo Hye Jin.
Eleven minutes before the final hooter, Rae converted a penalty corner to complete her brace and seal the issue for her side.
In the 63rd minute, Mamta scored a controvesial goal after deflecting a bouncing cross, but that was not enough for India to earn a berth in the final.
In other classification matches of the day, 26th-ranked Hong Kong went down to 55th-rated Thailand 0-1 and Malaysia blanked Chinese Taipei 3-0.