India crush China to seal semis spot in Asian Champions Trophy
Kuantan (Malaysia), Oct 25 (IANS) Akashdeep Singh and Jasjit Singh Kular scored a brace each as a ruthless India routed China 9-0 in a round-robin match to enter the semi-finals of the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here on Tuesday.
India displayed technical superiority over the Chinese as they ran riot, going 4-0 up till the half-time. They scored goals through Akashdeep Singh (ninth and 39th minutes), Affan Yousuf (19th), Jasjit Singh Kular (22nd and 51st), Rupinder Pal Singh (25th), Nikkin Thimmaiah (34th), Lalit Upadhyay (37th), Devinder Walmiki (41st).
In total, India had 24 shots at the target while China had five as Akash Chitke, standing in for India's premier goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh had a quiet outing.
With this win, India moved to the top of the standings with 10 points from four matches. They face Malaysia in their final round-robin match that could decide the top placed team before the knockouts. The hosts have nine points from three matches and are second on the table.
Meanwhile Japan are out of the race for the semi-finals after losing four consecutive matches -- the latest coming in the form of a 3-4 defeat to Pakistan. Muhammad Aleem Bilal scored a couple of penalty corner goals as Pakistan moved to the third spot of the standings.
India dominated the game from the start to the end. Such was their domination that the match was almost played in China's half.
It took only six minutes for India to stamp their authority when Akashdeep made China pay for a poor back pass as he trapped the ball a couple of yards behind the 'D' before shooting past H.Y. Wang with a reverse stick.
In the second half, India upped the ante and the goals rained. The quick counter-attacking flair of the Indians came to the fore as India found it easy.
Lalit Upadhyay and Akashdeep built the moves from the right as the Chinese defenders outnumbered the duo, the latter passed the ball to Yousuf, who drove the ball inside the goal on the far post to make it 2-0.
Four minutes later, Jasjit made it 3-0 as he single-handedly stole the ball from the midfield to enter the rival circle before playing a one-two with S.K. Uthappa prior to employ a reverse-hand strike past the Chinese custodian.
India's circle penetrations continued and three minutes later they earned a penalty corner which was converted by Rupinder in the 25th minute -- eighth goal of the tournament for the Indian set-piece specialist -- as India went into the half-time with a 4-0 lead.
The script remained the same after the 10-minute lemon break. India surged ahead and China had further trouble.
Uthappa played a through pass to Nikkin, who was stationed with his back facing the Chinese post. Nikkin made a spin and just lifted the ball in to make it 5-0.
In another quick counter-attack, the Chinese goalkeeper ran towards an onrushing Nikkin on the former's right before the Indian passed the ball to Lalit, who sent the ball home into an empty net.
Later, Akashdeep again made the most of a poor trapping from a Chinese defender on the left and charged to the top of the 'D' before shooting home to make it 7-0.
Walmiki too registered his name among the goal-scorers as he beat the Chinese goalkeeper with a rasping drive in the 41st minute.
Despite being 8-0 up with only a quarter to go, India didn't stop and piled further misery on the hapless Chinese as Jasjit rocketed the ball high in a goal-melee to mark his side's ninth goal of the evening.
In the final minutes of the game, India tried their best to enhance their goal tally but they couldn't as the battered Chinese were happy to walk off the pitch.