Fighting India beat spirited Malaysia 4-3 to win ACT for fourth time

Chennai: India fought back from two goals down to eke out a 4-3 win over a spirited Malaysia in a thrilling final to claim their fourth Asian Champions Trophy title at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here on Saturday.

Jugraj Singh (9th minute), skipper Harmanpreet Singh (45th), Gurjant Singh (45th) and Akashdeep Singh (56th) were the goal scores for India.

For Malaysia, Abu Kamal Azrai (14th), Razie Rahim (18th) and Muhamad Aminudin (28th) found the back of the net.

It is India’s record fourth title, making it the most successful team in the event.

India had earlier thrashed Malaysia 5-0 in the round-robin league stage.

Malaysia were aggressive in the first half as the Indians found it difficult to restrict their opponents.

India converted their first penalty in the ninth minute with Jugraj scoring with a fierce flick to the right of the Malaysian goalie.

The Indians got into their groove as the match progressed and played full-press hockey after a sluggish start.

But Malaysia didn’t sit back and continued to test the Indian defence. Their efforts bore fruit in the 14th minute when Azari found the back of the net after being fed by Azuan Hasan from the right flank.

Seconds from the first quarter, India secured back-to-back penalty corners but wasted both the chances.

Malaysia kept up the tempo in the second quarter and earned consecutive penalty corners in the 18th minute, the second of which was converted by Rahim as the ball went in after getting a deflection from rusher Amit Rohidas’ stick.

Malaysia secured a penalty corner for an unnecessary stick check by Jugraj in the 23rd minute but the effort went wide.

Malaysia got another penalty corner in the 28th minute and this time Aminudin made no mistake to hand his side a 3-1 lead at half-time.

A couple of minutes after the the change of ends, India earned a penalty corner but failed to utilise the opportunity. The home team asked for a referral for another set piece, which was turned down by the TV referee.

India worked well to win another penalty corner in the 36th, but Jugraj shot wide.

Sensing urgency, India switched to possession-based play. But the Malaysian defenders did well to intercept at the right time and keep the Indian attackers at bay. Malaysia earned another penalty corner in the 43rd minute but India defended stoutly.

The Indians turned the match on its head in a span of a minute, pumping in two goals to level the scores 3-3.

While India skipper Harmanpreet scored from a penalty stroke in the 45th minute, seconds later Gurjant found the back of the net from field play to make the scoreline 3-3.

India secured a penalty corner six minutes from the final hooter, but Harmanpreet’s flick was saved by the opposition goalkeeper.

India kept up the pressure and earned another penalty corner soon, but Harmanpreet’s effort went wide.

Akashdeep scored the winner for India with a slap stick from top of the ‘D’ after receiving a pass from Mandeep Singh.

The Indians pressed hard in the final few minutes of the match, drawing two fine saves from the Malaysian goalkeeper.