India paid the price for conceding a late goal once again as South Korea emerged victorious after a penalty shootout in a hard-fought final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia on Saturday.

Simranjeet Singh provided India the early lead in the first quarter from a field goal. Jang Jong Hyun equalised for South Korea with a penalty stroke with 13 minutes to spare in regulation time.

Manpreet Singh and Co had drawn 1-1 against Korea in the group stages as well, which was the only match that either team had not won.

This is the third title for Korea in the six-nation tournament.

In the penalty shootout, Korea triumphed 4-2.

The two teams had met in the 2010 final as well, sharing the trophy in that edition after the title clash was abandoned.

Korea’s defence too good

To breach Korea’s defence meant India had to be tactically wise in their attack from the very beginning. Though India made a couple of circle entries in quick-succession early in the game, the Korean defence was too good to crack. It took accurate, short passes by forwards Mandeep Singh and Sumit Kumar Jr that won India an opportunity to score in the first quarter. A quick assist by the latter to Simranjeet Singh earned India their first goal in the 9th minute.

Korea upped their ante as they made two good circle entries but an alert Indian defence kept them from creating potential shots on goal. With less than a minute remaining for the first hooter, Gurinder Singh earned India’s first Penalty Corner but the dragflicker could not get it past the Korean defenders.

India began the second quarter well. Though India made quite a few attempts in the striking circle, there was no success to double the lead. With a little over five minutes remaining for the half-time, India earned their second PC but Varun Kumar’s powerful flick was stopped by goalkeeper Jaehyeon.

Goals continued to elude India in the third quarter despite some numerous attempts. Meanwhile, Korea won their first PC in the 33rd minute but Jang Jonghyun’s flick went far wide from India’s post. It didn’t help India’s cause when a good chance to double the lead to 2-0 went begging with a PC execution gone wrong seconds before the end of the third quarter.

Korea upped their attack in the final quarter desperately looking for an equaliser. India were punished when an infringement by defender Amit Rohidas on the baseline trying to tackle Korea Skipper Lee Namyong was penalized with a penalty stroke given to Korea. Jang Jonghyun made no mistake in sending the ball past India goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak in the 47th minute.

With minutes racing away, India looked for an opening but the Korea defence held strong. A PC won in the 57th minute by India went amiss with Rohidas’s flick cleared away by the Korean defence. With a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time, the match went into a tense shootout where Korea were more efficient.