India have inched closer to the Champions Trophy 2016 final as they defeated South Korea 2-1 on Tuesday. Neither team managed to break the deadlock in the first half, but goals from SV Sunil and Nikkin Thimmaiah in the second half helped India win their second match of the competition.
The match came to an entertaining end after South Korea scored the equaliser with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Thimmaiah's 57th minute goal provided relief to coach Roelant Oltmans.
There was nothing much to choose between the two teams in the first quarter, as neither goalkeepers were tested. India got some chances to score in the latter stages of the quarter, but lacked in the final third to make it count.
It was all India in the second quarter, as they were playing a high-pressing game. But, South Korea were also up to the mark, not allowing India to penetrate down the middle. With Korea defending in numbers, India's offense found it difficult.
PR Sreejesh, who was disappointing against Belgium, made one important save in the 28th minute to keep the match goalless as the first half came to an end. India might have enjoyed possession, and looked better than their opponent, but they did not have anything to show for their effort in the first 30 minutes.
The second half started on a bright note, with both teams playing end-to-end hockey, making it fun to watch. With India applying pressure on Korea, they took lead in the 39th minute after a brilliant counter-attack, which was finished by SV Sunil, who used his skills to get past the Korean goalkeeper.
India looked confident with that goal, as they also earned their first penalty corner in the 41st minute, but could not convert it.
Harmanpreet came close to a field goal in the 51st minute, but the Korean goalkeeper denied India player the goal, which could have given Oltman's team a good cushion for the remainder of the match.
But, South Korea, who were not threatening much, all of a sudden equalised in the 56th minute, breaking Indian hearts. And just when one thought that the game would finish 1-1, Thimmaiah scored in the next minute from close range to help Oltman's team win 2-1.
With this win, as of now, India have climbed to second spot in Champions Trophy 2016 with seven points.