MUSCAT, October 23: India played a goalless draw against Malaysia in a fast-paced encounter of the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex here on Tuesday.
Both India and the Asian Games Silver medallists Malaysia now have 10 points each from four outings in the preliminary round-robin league, with India topping the standings on basis of a superior goal difference.
In the day’s other fixture, Korea twice rallied from the arrears to post a 4-2 victory over a fighting Oman, who conceded three goals in the last quarter.
The Indian team got off to a nervy start as they wasted several scoring opportunities early in the match. They had a spate of chances, only for Hardik Singh to falter in front of an open goal, Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty corner flick being blocked by the Malaysian goalkeeper and Mandeep Singh failing to get a touch on long diagonal balls twice in the first quarter.
Malaysia created one opening on a counter-attack but mostly fell back to defend their goal against the Indian strikers.
In the second half, the Indian strikers were not allowed space to enter the circle until the closing stages when they forced two penalty corners but could not produce a goal-bearing shot. This was a period when Malaysia was down to 10 players as Tengku Tajuddin was shown the yellow card for a deliberate foul on Indian Captain Manpreet Singh.
Nilakanta Sharma missed the target by inches in one of the combined Indian raids.
Oman opened the scoring against Korea in the sixth minute through Salah Al-Saadi’s fine deflection, but only to see the Koreans equalize in the next minute on a field goal from Hwang Tae-Il.
An outstanding goal by Mohammed Al Lawati put Oman into the lead again in the 36th minute, when he split through the defense and beat the goalkeeper with a diving one-handed shot.
In the last quarter, the Koreans managed to score three times. On two occasions, they capitalized on an extra player edge they enjoyed when Omani players were sent off the field for deliberate infringements.
Lee Seung-Hoon brought the scores level at 2-2 with an opportunistic strike in the 47th minute before two penalty corner goals from Yang Ji-Hun (51st minute) and Jang Jong-Hyun (59th) sealed the fate of the match.
This is Korea’s first victory after three losses in the preliminary round-robin league of the six-nation competition, providing the Koreans a glimmer of hope to make the semi-finals.
A victory over India, who have already secured their passage into the semi-finals, can boost the Koreans hopes of making the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Oman is yet to secure a point from four outings. Their last league game will be against reigning Asian Games champions Japan.