Antwerp: Jasjit Singh Kular converted two penalty corners in the final quarter to send India to the last four stage of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final as the 2014 Asian Games champions overcame a fighting Malaysia with a 3-2 victory in the quarter-final here on Wednesday.
Satbir Singh gave world No.9 India the lead in the 3rd minute but world No.12 Malaysia scored from skipper Razie Rahim (15th) and Shahril Saabah (23rd) to go ahead, before Jasjit scored twice (49th and 56th) to secure victory for his side at the Brasschaat Municipal Park.
India, who have already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, will meet the winner between hosts Belgium and France in the semi-final. World No.1 Australia thrashed Ireland 4-1 to set up a semi-final against England, who got the better of Pakistan 2-1 in the earlier matches held on the day. With this loss, four-time four-time World Cup winners Pakistan have failed to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Jasjit Singh in action
The game between India and Malaysia opened up on a breakneck speed as the two teams, with counter-attacking game, showed their intent from the beginning.
India grabbed the first opportunity in the third minute as Akashdeep Singh ran down to from the right of the Malaysian circle and dodged two markers before passing it to Satbir, who deflected the ball home to make it 1-0.
One minute later, Akashdeep got a brilliant chance to make it 2-0 as he was one-on-one with rival goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin but the Indian fired it over of the post.
Without wasting any moment, Malaysia were rewarded with a penalty corner following a pacy counter-attack, only for skipper Rahim to waste it.
Both the goalkeepers P.R. Sreejesh and Roslan had a tough day as their teams went on the offensive.
Malaysia seemed better in the last five minutes of the first quarter and got their equaliser in the 15th minute as Azuna Hasan hit the ball on the foot of India's Birendra Lakra, allowing a penalty corner. Skipper Rahim made amends for his earlier mistake and fired a grounder to the right corner of the post.
As soon as the second quarter began, Malaysia absorbed the pressure exerted by India and dominated the midfield. They showed more pace and energy as compared to the Indians and that bore fruit in the form of a 2-1 lead in the 23rd minute.
Off a penalty corner, Rahim played a dummy to Saabah, who managed to beat through Sreejesh's legs in a rare mistake from the Indian vice-captain.
India responded with much more firepower. However, they failed to make the most of two penalty corners following their directionless efforts.
Skipper Rahim had a very good day as he led the Malaysian defence that held firm against the likes of Nikkin Thimmiah, Devindar Walmiki, Satbir and Dharamvir Singh.
Trailing 1-2, India went on the attack from the start of the final quarter of 15 minutes. Lakra made a very good run form the right and passed it on to winger Gurbaj Singh, who found a foot of a Malaysia defender, earning a penalty corner in the 49th minute.
Jasjit flicked high into the net to make it 2-2 in the second chance following a messy defending on the first from the Malaysians.
After India levelled themselves, the 2014 Asian Games champions upped the ante and were rewarded with a penalty corner. Jasjit fired a booming flick into the net to give the 3-2 lead for India in the 56th minute. And later Sreejesh was tested fiercely but the Indian custodian came out on top to take India to the semi-final.