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India Wins Asian Games Men’s Hockey Title

Captain Harmanpreet Singh scored twice to help India beat Japan 5-1 to claim the men’s hockey gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games here on Friday.

World No. 3 India defeated South Korea 5-3 in the semifinals, while 15th-ranked Japan edged China 3-2 to enter the final. In the 36 games between the two finalists, India have 29 wins, four draws and three defeats.

Manpreet Singh broke the deadlock for India in the 25th minute, and Harmanpreet Singh added another through a penalty corner goal in the 32nd minute.

Rohidas Amit and Abhishek widened the gap to 4-0 in the 36th and 48th minutes, before Japan’s Seren Tanaka pulled one back three minutes later, but Harmanpreet Singh scored his second goal in the 59th minute to seal the victory.

“We wanted to be the No. 1 team in Asia, and I think we just proved that. What was really important was to have consistency. To win two tournaments back to back [the Asian Champions Trophy and Asian Games] is not easy,” said India head coach Craig Fulton.

“It’s been a massive squad effort. All the staff has put in a huge shift, the players as well, and also the players who were not selected. It’s a good place to be,” he added.

In the bronze medal game, China failed to repeat its victory over South Korea in the preliminary match, and went down 2-1.

China’s Gao Jiesheng scored through a penalty corner in the eighth minute, but it took only one minute for South Korea to find an equalizer through Kim Sung-hyun.

Jang Jong-hyun then scored the winner through a penalty corner in the 59th minute.

“It’s a pity to lose the game, but all the team members have been trying their best,” said China head coach Weng Haiqin. “We do have a gap from those top teams, and we have learned a lot through these Asian Games. As we will prepare for the Olympic preliminary contests soon, I believe we will make progress in the next games.”