India and Korea took a major step in their quest for the final of the 28th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
And hosts Malaysia succumbed to their first defeat after registering two consecutive wins.
Five-time winners India defeated host Malaysia 4-2
They are on the top of the table with seven points and are ahead on goal difference to South Korea who has similar points.
Korea had earlier clawed back from the jaws of defeat to overcome a battling Poland 3-2.
Malaysia is on six points after three matches.
And Canada surprised Japan 2-1 to stay in the hunt for a place in Saturday’s final.
The final berth is still wide open with all teams having two matches to play.
Malaysian coach Roelant Oltmans was satisfied with their performance but felt that they gave away too much space for the Indians to attack.
“It was a match we expected, and India were able to make better use of the opportunities. We scored a couple of goals and missed several others. It is always a good lesson and we will benefit from it. We will focus on the next game with Korea’s he said
This match between India and Malaysia was the 121st between the two teams.
India has a record of 84 wins 20 draw and 17 defeats.
India took the lead in the 17th minute with a goal by Sumit.
Malaysia drew level in the 21st minute via Mohamed Razie Rahim who scored with a direct drag flick.
In the 27th minute, India were back in the lead with Sumit Kumar scoring form a field attempt.
In the 38th minute, India increased their lead when Varun Kumar scored off their eighth penalty corner.
Though Malaysia reduces the deficit in the 57th minute, through a Mohamed Firhan Azhaari, Mandeep Singh ensured an India win with a quick counter-attack goal.
Indian coach David John was confident that they would win the match.
“We played better, and we gave away too many opportunities for the Malaysians to score. We controlled the match and we were able to match them. I am pleased with the players’ attitude and their ability to keep to our structure.
“We are not in the final yet but this result is important given the South Korean win earlier,” he said.
It was a case of being lucky for the Koreans who trailed twice in their match against Poland.
Against the run of play, Poland took the lead in the 28th minute through a field goal scored by Joseph Hillyer.
It was only in the 40th minute that the Koreans managed to score a goal. It was a field attempt through skipper Lee Nam-Yong.
But the Poland side relying on their counter-attacks found second wind and in the 50th minute took the lead.
This time Jacek Kurowski was the scorer as he latched on to a through pass and slotted past the Korean keeper Kim Jae-hyeon.
Jung Man-Jae, however, provided relief for the Koreans when he scored the equaliser in the 56th minute.
As the match was headed for a draw the Koreans struck with 20 seconds on the clock.
World number 10 Canada chalked up their second win in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a 2-1 victory over Japan.
The win has put the Canadians in reach of a final berth as they have six points from three matches. Their remaining matches are against India and Malaysia who are also in the mix for a final berth.
For Japan the defeat was a bitter blow as they controlled much of the play and had plenty of goal scoring chances.
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