Despite leading 3-1 till the 58th minute, India Tuesday blew away their chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals after being forced to a 3-3 draw by South Korea in a dramatic finish in the last Pool C match of the Hockey Junior World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
After going 0-1 down in the 16th minute in their must-win tie, India struck back with three consecutive goals, almost securing their last eight berth.
But penalty corner specialist Seungju You destroyed India's dreams by scoring twice again and levelling the match in the last 12 minutes of the thrilling encounter.
With the end of the league phase, the Netherlands, who beat Canada 7-0 earlier in the day, topped Pool C with nine points from three wins.
Korea and India both have four points but the former go into the quarter-finals with a better goal difference. Canada, however, finished fourth on zero points.
India took off aggressively, earning a penalty corner early in the second minute but Amit Rohidas' drag flick was wayward and India missed the chance to go ahead.
The visitors responded by earning their first penalty corner (fifth minute) but luck was on India's side as You's stroke hit the top bar and the ball kept out to the delight of the fans.
India maintained majority of the possession and created several chances which the forward line was unable to convert, like the previous two matches against the Dutch and Canada.
Korea's 13th minute penalty corner taken by You also went above the bar but the drag flicker did not miss his third chance and put Korea ahead in the 16th minute.
India earned their second penalty corner in the 29th minute but Rohidas missed his chance to equalise once again. Two minutes later another penalty corner came India's way but this time Gurjinder, who scored the winning goal against Canada, equalised for India.
At the stroke of halftime, India doubled their lead when Gurjinder struck from another penalty corner.
Gurjinder got another chance in the second period (44th minute) but this time the Korean defenders knew he would take the strike and attacked him, forbidding India to extend their lead.
Backed by the crowd which had found its voice after the two goals, India attacked and created several opportunities in which their best chance came when Ramandeep Singh struck the ball inside the D but Korean goalie Lee Seyoung made an excellent diving save to keep the ball out.
The home side then scored in the 45th minute via Mandeep Singh, who deflected an accurate pass by Satbir Singh into the target. Then Malak Singh sent the ball inside the Korean goal but a video referral proved the ball went in after hitting his thigh.
You then silenced the crowds by scoring two goals in a span of two minutes (58th and 60th), making his hat-trick, and putting Korea level with India 3-3 -- in effect putting Korea in the quarters.
India made desperate attempts in the last 10 minutes but Korea held on to the scoreline. India will now play the 9-12 position classifications matches Thursday.
Pool C results: Netherlands beat Canada 7-0, India draw South Korea 3-3.