KUALA LUMPUR, June 21: Asian champions India swept into the semifinals of the 15th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a classic 3-0 win over South Korea in their final Group A match on Wednesday.
The win gave the Indians six points and top position in their group, while Australia took the second spot in the table after settling for a 2-2 draw with hosts Malaysia in a closely fought encounter.
The Australians needed a four-goal margin against Malaysia to pip India to the top spot. But the Malaysians had other ideas and a 70th minute goal by Megat Azrafiq ensured a draw.
The Australians qualified for the semifinals based on the higher number of goals scored although they had shared a four-point ranking with Korea. The Australians had scored six goals while the Koreans took five.
Malaysia played a well-planned game and even took the lead in the 15th minute through Ismail Abu.
A penalty stroke conversion by Brent Livermore in the 27th minute and a 40th minute field goal by Grant Schubert put the Australians in line for a win.
But with 14 seconds to go the Malaysians earned a penalty stroke. Megat converted and the match ended in a draw.
In the earlier clash, India played one of their best matches in recent months, dominating the action from the start and pulling to a 2-0 lead when the game was halted in the 28th minute due to a heavy downpour.
Match officials decided to restart after a 180-minute delay but the pause failed to cool the Indians' blistering form.
After their aggressive start, they kept the Koreans confined in defence for long periods.
Tejbir Singh scored in the ninth minute off a field attempt when he deflected in a cross by Sandeep Singh.
Then in the 15th minute Singh was on target with a drag flick from the penalty corner to put the Indians in firm control of the match before rain delayed play.
After the game resumed, the Indians continued with their attacking play and managed to keep the Koreans out with some good defensive play, especially from skipper Dilip Tirkey.
In the 53rd minute Tushar Khandhar finished off the performance with a field goal scored after a quick counter-attack.
India, ranked seventh in the world, will learn on Thursday who their semifinal opponents will be. The final group matches will decide the two teams going ahead from that pool, with Pakistan, New Zealand and the Netherlands fighting for berths.—AFP