India 5-3 Japan: Men’s hockey team advances to Olympics semi-finals

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India defeated Olympics hosts Japan 5-3 to finish second in their pool, behind Australia. The match was an entertaining affair from start to finish with plenty of goals to enjoy from both sides. 

Both teams started out bright in the first quarter, and had numerous early chances. But it was ultimately Harmanpreet Singh who gave India the lead in the 13th minute after a penalty corner. Gurjant Singh then helped double their lead, with an easy finish to mark his 50th international appearance. 

Kenta Tanaka’s goal saw Japan pull one back, but still trail by one in the middle of the game. The third quarter saw Kota Watanabe help equalise for Japan in the 33rd minute, but that would not last long. India took the lead yet again only a minute after, courtesy of Shamsher Singh. 

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Nilakanta Sharma gave the Indians another two goal advantage in the 51st minute. And shortly after Japan missed their first penalty corner of the game, India scored their fifth goal of the match. Kazuma Murata helped reduce the deficit in the 59th minute, but it was not enough to stop India. 

Chief Coach Graham Reid’s post-match comments:  “Better performance tonight. First-quarter was pretty good, we lost a little bit after they scored. In the second half, we came out and sort of regained control over the game. But, I thought we played better. We really tried playing at a much higher tempo tonight, trying to get on the tempo that we are going to need on Sunday. I think we mixed that up pretty well and played a controlled game. Good to get a couple of field goals, created a lot of opportunities, but I think we still need to get better at those outcomes in the circle.”

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