Johor Bahru: India pumped in four goals in the second session in a sizzling display of attacking hockey to post a comprehensive 4-0 victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 tournament here on Wednesday.
The Indians, who completely outplayed their opponents, struck three goals in a space of 11 minutes after resumption through Sukhmonjit Singh (38th and 46th minutes) and Imran Khan (45th) before Ramandeep Singh fired in his fourth goal of the tournament in the 61st minute.
It was an spectacular performance by the Indians in the second half that saw them win by a huge margin over the Pakistanis who were on equal terms with their neighbours till the half time.
India produced a clinical performance, with Sukhmanjit scoring twice while Imran and Ramandeep sharing one goal each. (Photo credit: sultanjohorcup.com)
The Indians were a completely different outfit in the second session, which turned out to be a completely one-sided affair as they dictated the pace of the game by using both the flanks well and distributing the ball nicely to mount raids into the rival's striking circle almost at will.
With Wednesday's win, their third on the trot, India are on top of the league table along with hosts Malaysia with nine points from three victories from as many matches. The Indians are in a strong position to make it to the final. With two matches left to be played by all six teams in the fray, Pakistan are on third spot with six points, Argentina and Korea on one point each, while England are yet to open their account.
The top two teams after the round robin matches will play in the final, while the third and fourth-place outfits will fight for the bronze medal. The first goal came in the third minute into the second half from India's fourth penalty corner. Amit Rohidas did not take the strike and instead relayed to Sukhmonjit who slammed the ball home with a pile driver.
Imran Khan then made it 2-0 for India in the 45th minute as he connected a fine pass from the right by Harjeet Singh. Ramandeep then earned a penalty stroke in the next minute and Sukhmonjit scored his second goal of the match and shut the game on Pakistan.
It was, however, Pakistan who started off the match on a fast pace while India were content with stroking the ball around, awaiting the Pakistani players to make mistakes. Pakistan had a first look at the goal via a penalty corner by Mohammad Tousiq in the fifth minute but Indian custodian Harjot Sing was equal to the task.
The Pakistan trio of Umar Bhutta, Muhammad Dilber and Muhammad Umair strung some neat passes together but could not pose a danger on the Indian goal. In the 15th minute, India almost earned the lead but Amit Rohidas' drag-flick off a penalty corner hit the upright.
India came out in the second session with all guns blazing and took just three minutes to earn a penalty corner and take the lead. Instead of taking the shot himself, Amit Rohidas relayed the ball to Sukhmonjit whose flick sailed into the roof of the Pakistani net.
The second goal came in the 45th minute from a fine effort by Harjeet Singh who dribbled past a couple of defenders on the right flank and sent a square pass to Imran Khan who slotted the ball into an empty goal with Pakistan goalkeeper Mazhar wrong-footed.
Barely had the cheers died down that India were awarded a penalty stroke when Ramandeep was brought down in full flight by Tousiq inside the striking circle. Sukhmonjit stepped up to put the ball past Mazhar for a 3-0 lead.
In the 61st minute, Kothajit Singh broke through on the left and set up a simple tap in for Ramandeep to score India's fourth goal and the humiliation was complete.India play Korea in their fourth round-robin league match Thursday.