So that is it! India make it to finals!
India have beaten Malaysia !
The last quarter was a thriller with India desperately trying to hold onto the lead. They did that, even though the Malaysians scored a goal, that would have given them hope to restore parity. But that was not to be.
They were trying to run down the clock and in the process making mistakes and giving away the ball too easily on the break leaving gaps at the back.
To restore parity Malaysia, in the dying moments even deployed its goalie as a player! This adventurism came after their hopes were restored due to a major success before that.
And that was a big goal!
It was Shaahril Saabah who scored the goal and ensured that the match went into its last moments with a lot of anxiety for all concerned! He scored from close quarters with as much as 10 minutes to go till the end of the encounter.
In fact, Malaysian players have begun to easily give away possession and that is where India has looked to take advantage of. Two Indian players got great chances to put the contest beyond dispute but they bungled it.
One was Lalit Upadhyay, when his shot flew over the goal and the other was Ramandeep shooting wide — they both should have done much better.
However, Indian players themselves have been wasteful and one instance was really glaring — ball got stuck Satbir under his shoe! Another instance of wastefulness was when, at the third quarter, India won a long corner, but wasted it blatantly!
Second quarter HT! A fantastic 1st half for India as they have a two-goal cushion heading into the break. The strategy paid off, as India scored yet another goal in the quarter leading up to half-time. What this strategy required was that the Indian strikers fall back as soon as their attack fizzled out.
The players showed discipline and were quick to return to their defensive duties to peg back Malaysia every time. The goal this time came from an unlikely source — Lalit Upadhyay.
In one such lightning-quick counter-attack, he was the recipient of a fine pass by Akashdeep in the circle and all he had to do was plunk it into the net. Score: for India. This came just minutes after yet another attack in which Akashdeep shot towards goal, but it is deflected and thereafter it is put high.
However, a penalty corner ensued from that. Harmanpreet too had a shot at the goal before this from the middle of the circle, but all he got was a long corner in return. First quarter In the first quarter, Ramandeep scored as early as the third minute.
And as things go in the final, the team that scores first sits back and absorbs pressure and gives up the attacking momentum. That allowed the Malaysians to dominate the quarter. Still, the quality of the Indian side in attack and even in defence shows that while India had 2 shots at Malaysian goal that were squarely on target, the opponent had none!
In defence, Sardar SIngh broke the back of almost every Malaysian attack with his superb tackling skills. The defenders were working very well in unison as even a Malaysian penalty corner went abegging. The reason why the Malaysian attackers were not getting to move freely was because the Indian defenders were quick to close in on the ball and denied any open space for the rivals to exploit.