India beat South Korea to finish seventh

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India beat South Korea 5-2 and retain their seventh place in the Olympic Games men's hockey competition at Athens.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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India came good but only when it was too late as they rode on a first half blitz to prevail over South Korea 5-2 and retain their seventh place in the Olympic Games men's hockey competition here today. After a disastrous show in the mega tournament, the Indians finally found their rhythm in the classification match for the seventh place, as they opened up a wide 4-0 lead by half time. Indians had finished seventh in the last edition of the Games in Sydney in 2000. Gagan Ajit Singh gave a good start to the Indians today by netting an early brace (4th and 12th), before Vikram Pillay (15th) and Prabhjot Singh (33rd) scored one apiece prior to the first half hooter. However, the Indians switched to a somewhat defensive mode in the second session enabling the Koreans to pull two goals back through penalty corner conversions by Seong Hwan Ji (57th) and Seong Jung Kang (59th). Adam Sinclair capped the proceedings for India by striking in the 68th minute. The Koreans, who tried to make fast forays particularly in the second half, found the Indian defence - led by Dilip Tirkey - a hard nut to crack as they forced as many as nine penalty corners but could capitalise on only two. A striking feature of the Indian display was that all their goals were field goals as they failed to force even a single penalty corner in the entire stretch of the fast-paced match against the Asia Games gold medallists. Gagan Ajit, who stole the show in the initial minutes with his sparkling performance, made the scoreline 1-0 with an opportunistic fourth minute strike, before increasing the lead eight minutes later with a rasping hit. Goalkeeper Jong Min Kim got his hands to it, but the sheer power of the shot proved too much for him. The Indians continued their onslaught and Vikram Pillay got into the act soon when he slammed a rebound home after Gagan Ajit's powerful hit came off the Korean custodian. The Koreans made intermittent moves, forcing one penalty corner after another but skipper Tirkey and custodian Adrian D'Souza proved equal to the task. Two minutes from half time, a combined Indian move rattled the Korean rearguard as Prabhjot latched on to a short pass from the right and tapped in. (PTI)

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