Two-time champions India beat holders Pakistan 4-2 via penalties in the men’s hockey final to win the Asian Games gold medal after 16 years at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium here Thursday, and thus booked a berth for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Goalkeeper P.R.Sreejesh pulled off two brilliant saves as India won 4-2 in the shoot-outs. Dharamvir Singh converted the last shoot-out for India to trigger wild celebrations in the stadium.
Muhammed Rizwan Sr. gave Pakistan the lead in the third minute and Kothajit Singh got India the equaliser in the 27th minute. Both the teams on numerous occasions came close to break the deadlock but failed to do so, stretching the game into shoot-outs.
The win was reminiscent of India’s triumph in the 1998 Bangkok Games, when skipper and goalkeeper Ashish Ballal also made some excellent saves to guide his team to a 4-2 win over South Korea in the penalties after the match ended 1-1. In fact, India’s first gold medal also came in Bangkok, beating Pakistan in the final.
It was after 32 years that both India and Pakistan were facing off in the Asian Games final. The last time when the neighbours faced in the 1982 Asian Games final, India were humiliated 1-7 in Delhi.
Pakistan are the most accomplished team in the Asian Games, having won eight gold medals since 1958.