India produced a spirited performance to beat Korea 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out after both the teams were locked at 2-2 at regulation time, to finish a creditable third in the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, at Ipoh in Malaysia on Sunday.
The win is sure to act as a morale booster for the Indian team, which is witnessing a transition phase after new chief coach Paul van Ass took over from Terry Walsh barely a month ago. The third place finish also marks a relatively good beginning for Van Ass, who was in his maiden assignment with the Indian team. For India, who had earlier drawn 1-1 with Korea in the league stages, the win came on the back of a stunning 4-2 win over world champions and title holders Australia on Saturday.
India scored both their goals through field strikes from last match's hat-trick man Nikkin Thimmaiah (10th) and Satbir Singh (22nd), while Korea scored from penalty corners converted by You Hyosik (20th) and Nam Hyunwoo (29th).
India's vice-captain P R Sreejesh had a fantastic day under the bar as he not only made numerous saves in the entire 60 minutes, but also turned out to be India's hero in the shoot-out, denying two Korean efforts to help his side register the much-needed victory.
The only blemish for India was penalty corners. The Sardar Singh-led side failed to secure a single set piece but their backline as usual crumbled under pressure and gave away seven short corners.
Both the teams were slow to get off the block and were sloppy in the initial few minutes. It was India who had the first shy at the goal in the sixth minute but Akashdeep Singh shot wide after a scramble inside the circle. Three minutes later, Korea secured their first penalty corner but Nam Hyunwoo's effort couldn't get past the defence of an agile Indian goalkeeper, Sreejesh.