Pakistan down India in thriller for Doha glory
DOHA, Dec 27: Pakistan overcame India 5-4 in a thrilling Asian Champions Trophy final at the Al-Rayyan Hockey Stadium here on Thursday.
Mohammad Imran and Mohammad Waqas Sharif scored twice and Shafqat Rasool added another in a topsy-turvy clash that saw both sides take the lead and relinquish it on numerous occasions.
Pakistan’s victory meant they took revenge for their defeat to India in the inaugural edition of the event in the Chinese city of Ordos where India prevailed on penalties.
Pakistan’s ace forward Shakeel Abbasi suffered a leg injury and was taken off in the early stages but Pakistan responded well to take the lead when Waqas scored with a deft shot. India responded with back-to-back goals from SV Sunil and VR Raghunath to go into the break 2-1 up.
The crowd was entertained with a breathtaking display of attacking hockey in the second-half that saw six more goals.
After failing to find an equaliser in the first five minutes of the second-half, Rasool finally made it 2-2 in the 42nd minute. Six minutes later, the Pakistani section of the crowd erupted in joy when Imran’s flick made it 3-2.
India levelled soon after through Gurvinder Singh Chandi in the 55th minute before Waqas put Pakistan 4-3 up two minutes later.
India made it 4-4 from a Rupinder Pal Singh penalty corner but with the game seemingly heading into extra-time, Pakistan responded with a winner through Imran to break Indian hearts once again in the space of hardly a month following their 3-2 victory over their arch-rivals for third place in the Champions Trophy in Melbourne.
In the dying minutes, there was controversy with Indian team walking off the pitch after the referee had turned down their appeal for a penalty corner. They returned to the pitch soon after but Pakistan held on to be crowned champions of Asia.
Earlier, Malaysia took third place in the event after they defeated China 3-1 while Oman upset Japan 2-1 to take fifth spot.—Agencies