India beat Great Britain 2-1 to retain Sultan of Johor Cup U-21 title
Johor Bahru: Harmanpreet Singh converted two penalty corners to help India successfully defend its Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC) U-21 hockey title, beating Great Britain 2-1 in a keenly-contested final yesterday.
A British player (in white) is thwarted by the Indian defence during the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia yesterday. Pic/PTI
Harmanpreet (45th & 90th mins) slammed home two set pieces at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium to take his goals tally to eight in the tournament. For Great Britain, Samuel French (55th minute) was the lone scorer.
Great Britain, unbeaten in the preliminary round, came into the final with a psychological advantage over India having beaten them 2-0 in their round-robin clash. But defending champions India had a record to play for as they wanted to be the first team to win the title twice since the inception of SOJC in 2011.
Malaysia had won the inaugural title with Germany winning in 2012 and India 2013. And India duly achieved their goal with a late winner from Harmanpreet, who scored his second and the all-important winner with just 45 seconds from time by converting his second penalty.
It was a hard-fought encounter between India and Great Britain as both the teams did not give an inch to each other atleast in the opening half. But India finally took the lead in the 45th minute through a Harmanpreet's penalty corner conversion. Britain's French then converted a PC (55th min) for 1-1.
A controversy then erupted in the 62nd minute when Indian custodian Abhnav Pandey was shown the green card and an outfield player was taken off to bring on substitute 'keeper Subodh Tirkey.
With the match heading towards a shoot-off, India were awarded another penalty corner, just 45 seconds from the hooter, and Harmanpreet made it 2-1. In the bronze medal play-off earlier, Australia beat New Zealand 6-2.