The Indian Men’s hockey team remained unbeaten in their defense of the Asian Champions Trophy title as they thrashed Japan 9-0 in their third round robin match held here at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Sunday evening.
The World No. 5 team were on top of things right from the word go against the reigning Asian Games Gold medallists and scored goals in all the four quarters through Mandeep Singh (4’, 49’, 57’), Harmanpreet Singh (17’, 21’), Gurjant Singh (8’), Akashdeep Singh (36’), Sumit (42’) and Lalit Upadhyay (45’) to register a convincing victory and remain at the top of the Pool Standings.
High on confidence after their win against Pakistan, India started well with Lalit Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh combining well and creating chances in the opening few minutes, but it was Mandeep Singh who scored the opener in the 4th minute as he deflected Akashdeep Singh's low cross from the left, through the Japanese goalkeeper's leg. Four minutes later, the dominant Indians won a penalty corner and that resulted in a goal for Gurjant Singh, who benefited after Harmanpreet Singh’s drag flick was saved Japanese goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa.
In the second quarter, India earned another penalty corner early on and once again the goalkeeper saved Varun Kumar’s shot, before Manpreet Singh reacted fastest only to see his shot saved on the goal line. Harmanpreet though was on hand to make it 3-0.
Harmanpreet was in the thick of things again in the 21st minute as he drilled in a penalty corner towards the right corner to score his second goal of the match. It was a difficult first half for Japan, as India took a comfortable four goal lead into the break.
After the break, both sides came out firing on all cylinders, but it was India who made it count with a fifth goal through Akashdeep Singh. Right after though, India played with 10-men as Dilpreet Singh was shown a yellow card for pushing a Japanese player. The Indian team continued their good work in attack irrespective as Sumit (42’) and Lalit Upadhyay (45’) added to the tally and made seven without return.
India continued to put pressure on the Japanese defence in the last quarter as they scored in the 49th minute through a penalty corner in which they tried a variation. It was Harmanpreet Singh who played a brilliant back-door pass to Varun Kumar, who slid it along to Mandeep Singh and he made no mistake on his second attempt.
At the other end of the field, Japan had a chance to open their account in the 53rd minute as they won themselves a penalty corner, but the resulting strike was wide of the target as India continued to test the Japanese defence.
Mandeep Singh then completed his hat-trick on the 57th minute by deflecting Manpreet Singh’s hard and low pass across goal into the back of the net to secure a 9-0 victory for the Indian team.