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India beat S Korea, retain Junior Asia Cup hockey title

Hyderabad: India staged a dramatic fightback to retain the Junior Asia Cup hockey title with a pulsating 3-2 victory over South Korea, relying on ace drag flicker Diwakar Ram's brilliance to score the match-winner early in the extra time.

The Indians were trailing 0-2 till the 52nd minute of the fast-paced contest before clawing back in a sensational manner with three quick goals to leave the Koreans in a daze.

After being locked 2-2 at the end of regulation time, the in-form Diwakar Ram converted a penalty corner to tilt the balance in India's favour in the summit showdown which saw fortune fluctuating from one team to the other till the very end.

Scenes of wild celebrations broke out in the galleries as soon as Diwakar Ram netted the 'golden goal' while the Indian players hugged each other to celebrate their second successive Asia Cup triumph.

It was again Diwakar who came to the rescue of the team by scoring two goals in the crucial game which at one time seemed to be running away from the Indians with their nippy rivals scoring the first two goals and exerting tremendous pressure with a flurry of attacks from both the flanks.

Apart from Diwakar's brace, the hard-working Sunil SP scored a goal for the Indians who managed to maintain their unbeaten streak right through the event.

Nam Hyan Woo scored both the goals for the Koreans who began with a flourish but lost the tempo in the dying stages when it mattered the most.

The Koreans drew first blood as early as the sixth minute of the contest with Nam Hyan Woo scoring a field goal, capitalising on a defensive lapse.

The Koreans, who relied on speed and deft stickwork to pierce through the Indian defence time and again, dominated the opening session and could have pumped in a few goals had it not been for a few stunning saves by goalkeeper Sreejesh.

Leading 1-0 at the interval, the Koreans attacked with renewed vigour in the second session and consolidated their position with Woo again finding the target in the 52nd minute.

It was just the jolt the Indians needed as they suddenly showed more urgency and managed to launch a few counter attacks.

The Indians reduced the margin in the 59th minute with Sunil scoring the goal off a free hit while Diwakar found the equaliser three minutes later by converting a penalty corner.

Both the teams failed to break the 2-2 deadlock till the end of regulation time.

Spurred on by a vociferous home crowd, the Indians went into the extra time with a great deal of confidence and within four minutes Diwakar had done the star turn much to the delight of his teammates.

Pakistan took the third place in the tournament by thrashing Japan 7-2 in the play-off for third-fourth position.

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