India secured it’s first victory of the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup by beating South Korea 2-1 in a pulsating encounter earlier today. Michael Nobbs’ men were looking to bounce back after their disappointing 1-5 loss to New Zealand yesterday and they performed admirably to gain a much-needed first win of the tournament today.
A man of the match performance from Sardar Singh was joined in by goals from Sandeep Singh and SK Uthappa as India overcame a late comeback from South Korea. The match commenced with India pushed on the backfoot. South Korea dominated proceedings early on with Hyo Sik You narrowly missing a chance to put his side ahead in the 3rd minute.
Nonetheless, the Indians began to assert themselves into the game, with Sandeep and Sardar Singh showcasing their experience while on possession. It ultimately lead to an imminent breakthrough in the 11th minute as India opened the scoring through Sandeep Singh. The experienced drag-flicker did not disappoint by smashing in their first penalty corner into the back of the net, as Michael Nobbs’ men seized the lead.
The tempo continued as India outplayed their Korean counterparts after taking the lead. A great combination move from Sarwanjit and Sunil almost gifted India a second goal but Kothajit’s push failed to find Shivendra and Sunil who were both lurking inside the D area. They continued to dominate the flow of the match but there wasn’t much productivity on the offensive as the scoreline remained intact until half time.
When the second half commenced, South Korea earned two successive penalty corners in the 38th minute, although they failed to convert both attempts. Sandeep Singh’s carpet grounder found Shivendra inside the D box in the 48th minute but the talismanic forward squandered his attempt to control the ball, thus wasting yet another glorious chance.
Few minutes later, India came agonizingly close to doubling their lead as a counter attack through the wings which lead to Sunil wrong footing the Korean goalkeeper who came out to early, before launching a pass into the path of the on-rushing Tushar and Shivendra. However, both players failed to make any contact with the ball with an open goal in front of them.
As the game progressed, the tempo of the game showed no signs of decreasing with both sides still having everything to play for. Seong Jong Ho almost restored parity for the Koreans in the 60th minute before Nam Hyun Kyo’s solo run from midfield came to a waste after he lost control of the ball in the final third.
But the agonizing heartbreak for India arrived six minutes before full time as South Korea equalized through a penalty corner that was dispatched successfully by Nam Hyun Kyo.
When everything seemed gloomy for the Indians, one moment of brilliance from Uthappa changed their fortunes as he deflected Tushar’s cross into the goal to restore India’s lead with only 55 seconds left on the clock. The ending totally epitomized the intensity of the clash as India emerged victorious at the end of the match.