INCHEON, Sept 30 (PTI): Akashdeep Singh today scored a fabulous field goal against hosts South Korea to guide Indian men�s hockey team into the finals of the Asian Games after a gap of 12 years, setting up a summit showdown with arch-rivals Pakistan.
After squandering at least three gilt-edged chances to take the lead in the first two quarters, Akashdeep (44th minute) received the ball inside the striking circle and without turning he flicked it through his legs in spectacular style into the goal to register a 1-0 win over former champions South Korea at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium here.
The Indian men�s hockey team, which last made it to the final of the Asiad way back in 2002 Busan Games, will now face Pakistan in the final on Thursday, with a direct ticket for the 2016 Rio Olympics up for grabs.
In another semifinal, Pakistan eked out a hard-fought 6-5 win over 2010 Guangzhou Games silver medallist Malaysia in the second semifinal via shoot-off after both the teams failed to break the deadlock in the regulation 60 minutes.
The title clash against Pakistan will also provide India an opportunity to avenge upon their 1-2 defeat against the same opponents in the pool stages of the ongoing Games.
Earlier, a 1-0 win was India�s eighth against Korea in the Asian Games in 14 matches and was the 29th overall in 72 encounters in all competitions.
The win also helped India reach the final, assuring them of at least the silver medal, for the first time since the 2002 Busan Games. They did not make the semis in 2006 at Doha and then four years ago they were shocked by Malaysia in the semi-finals at Guangzhou.
The Indians were by far the dominant side on display against Korea in the entire 60 minutes today and controlled the proceedings from the word go.
The Koreans played catch-up hockey throughout the match but failed to break the resolute Indian defence.
There was hardly any clear scoring opportunity for the Koreans, whereas India threatened the opponent goal throughout the encounter.
There was plan, purpose and poise in India�s display and the major difference was the defense, which held well right through.
The midfield, with captain Sardar Singh marshalling the resources, also gave the extra edge to the attack with some excellent passes but the frontline was again guilty of squandering a few very good chances.