New Delhi: Indian Men’s Hockey Team beat Japan 4-2 to remain unbeaten in the second-leg of the Four Nations Invitational Tournament at the Gallagher Hockey Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday. After stunning victories against New Zealand (3-2) and Belgium (5-4), India overcame Japanese challenge with late goals by Mandeep Singh (58’) and Ramandeep Singh (58’) to win. The other goal scorers for India were Vivek Sagar Prasad (12’) and Varun Kumar (30’) while Seren Tanaka (14’) and Shota Yamada (43’) scored for Japan. India will next play World No.3 Belgium, who beat hosts New Zealand 4-0 to make the Final on Sunday.
It was India who started well, keeping the ball for most part of the first quarter and came up with accurate passes to make their way into the Japanese striking circle. The team drew first blood when Harjeet Singh dribbled through the midfield to find forward Arman Qureshi who then beautifully assisted Vivek Sagar Prasad who made a diving effort to score India’s first goal. Prasad has been impressive in this tour, creating scoring opportunities for India and even has two goals from his debut match in Tauranga to his credit.
India were slightly dodgy the next few minutes after scoring the goal as they gave up possession and were punished when Japan broke into a quick counter, paving way through the left flank. It was Seren Tanaka who drove into the Indian circle, beating the defenders to strike the ball into India’s goal leveling the score 1-1 before going into the first break.
While India built on their game in the second quarter, Japan kept fighting back trying to defend with all their might. But an error while defending forced them to concede a PC when Varun Kumar’s strong pass sliced through the Japanese circle as forward Lalit Upadhyay forced a foot foul. Though the variation did not fetch a goal, India won another PC after forcing another foul in Japanese circle. It was Varun Kumar who stepped up for the drag flick this time and executed it brilliantly to take 2-1 lead.