Indian men’s hockey team defeated Japan 4-2 to remain unbeaten in the second-leg of the Four-Nation Invitational Tournament.
After stunning victories against New Zealand (3-2) and Belgium (5-4), India overcame Japanese challenge with late strikes from Mandeep Singh (58th minute) and Ramandeep Singh (58th).
The other goal scorers for India were Vivek Sagar Prasad (12th) and Varun Kumar (30th) while Seren Tanaka (14th) and Shota Yamada (43rd) scored for Japan.
India will next play world no.3 Belgium, who beat hosts New Zealand 4-0, in the summit clash tomorrow.
It was India who started well, keeping the ball for most part of the first quarter and came up with accurate passes to make their way into the Japanese striking circle.
India drew first blood when Harjeet Singh dribbled through the midfield to find forward Arman Qureshi who passed it on to Vivek for the first goal.
Vivek has been impressive in this tour, creating scoring opportunities for India and even has two goals to is credit in his debut match in Tauranga.
India were slightly dodgy in the next few minutes after as they gave up possession and were punished when Japan broke into a quick counter, paving way through the left flank.
It was Seren Tanaka who drove into the Indian circle, beating defenders to level the scores.
While India built on their game in the second quarter, Japan kept fighting back trying to defend with all their might.
But some lapse in concentration from Japanese defenders earned India back-to-back penalty corners, and Varun Kumar converted from the second opportunity give his a 2-1 lead.
Both the teams traded penalty corners at the start of the third quarter.
India won their third penalty corner in the 32nd minute but Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was well-saved by Japanese goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa.
Japan won a penalty corner in the following minutes but couldn’t make much of the opportunity.
India then broke into a fierce counter and made a successful circle entry but Vivek’s reverse hit was well-saved by Japanese custodian.
Japan, though, made the most of their second penalty corner when Shota Yamada used a smart variation to caught Indian goal keeper Krishan Pathak off-guard and level the scores in the 43rd minute.
Japan did well in the next quarter, cutting down space which made life difficult for the Indian forward.
Japan had a great chance to take a 3-2 lead when they were awarded a penalty stroke after Indian infringement but Shota Yamada’s flick was wide off target.
Mandeep then deflected in an improvised fashion to restore India lead in the 58th minute.
Ramandeep then added another for India in the very next move to seal the match in his side’s favour.