DHAKA: A thumping 6-2 victory against Bangladesh saw Pakistan get their first victory of the Asian Champions Trophy, jumping up to third in the table and setting up a semi-final against South Korea.
Pakistan went into their last round-robin game knowing that a two-goal victory would see them leapfrog third-placed Japan, who were hammered 6-0 by India earlier in the day.
But doubles Aijaz Ahmed and Ahmed Nadeem and goals apiece by Afraz and Mohammad Razzaq saw them clinch a four-goal victory with Bangladesh getting both their goals through Arshad Hosein.
Pakistan edged Japan on goal difference after both finished level on five points, one point behind second-placed South Korea while India topped the standings with 10 points.
Bangladesh went into the game having lost their first three matches and knew they had to upset Pakistan in order to make the semi-finals.
Arshad gave them a shock 13th-minute lead only for Ahmed to level matters in the very next minute.
It was the start of Pakistan’s goal rush which saw them score a further four goals in the next 20 minutes.
Aijaz made it 2-1 in the 18th before Afraz got his goal in the 24th. Ahmed got his second goal two minutes later with Razzaq making it 4-1 in the 34th.
Arshad pulled one back for Bangladesh in the 34th but Aijaz sealed victory for his side four minutes later.
Earlier, Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner to give India a 10th minute lead against Japan and Dilpreet Singh made it 2-0 in the 23rd.
Jarmanpreet Singh added the third in the 34th before goals by Sumit, Harmanpreet and Shamsher Singh in the space of seven minutes completed a resounding victory for India.
Japan have work to do if they are to avoid another hammering by India when they meet the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists in the semi-final on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s match with South Korea on the same day is expected to be a much evenly-contested one after they played a 3-3 draw against each other on Saturday.
Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2021