JAKARTA, Sept 1: India maintained their recent domination over arch-rivals Pakistan with a fighting 2-1 win to bag a consolation bronze medal after a below-par semifinal performance at the 18th Asian Games on Saturday.
Akashdeep Singh scored a brilliant field goal in the third minute while Harmanpreet Singh extended India�s advantage in the 50th minute off a penalty corner.
Muhammad Atiq increased the heart rate of Indian fans reducing the margin in the 52nd minute from a counter-attack.
But the Indians didn�t repeat the same mistake which they committed against Malaysia in the semifinals and managed to hold on to the lead to at least reedem some pride.
World number five India, who came into the tournament as favourites being the defending champions, will go back home with a bronze, having beaten 13th ranked Pakistan for the second time in the last three months. The Indians had defeated Pakistan 4-0 in the Champions Trophy in June.
After the semifinal heartbreak, India on Saturday seemed like a team on a mission from the first minute.
After creating a couple of early chances, the Indians struck as early as in the third minute through Akashdeep, who fired the ball into the goal over Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt after receiving a measured pass from Lalit Upadhyay as the partisan Indian crowd went into a frenzy.
Pakistan almost equalised in the fifth minute but Atiq�s reverse hit could only find the right post. A referral was taken but it was adjudged that the ball had not crossed the goal line.
From there on, India were all over Pakistan in the opening quarter but could not extend the lead after Mandeep Singh missed an easy chance.
Pakistan came out an improved side in the second quarter, making more repeated forays into the Indian circle. Their two attempts through Muhammad Dilbeer and Ajaz Ahmad were unsuccessful. Dilbeer hit his shot wide while Ahmad�s try was blocked by an Indian defender.
Pakistan got two back-to-back penalty corners in the 22nd minute, but wasted both.
In the second and third quarters, India were a bit sloppy with their trapping and passing, ensuring more possession for Pakistan. � PTI