Bhubaneshwar, Dec 13: A misfiring India squandered a golden opportunity to create history as they went down 3-4 against arch-rivals Pakistan in a high-voltage semifinal of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here today.
Muhammad Arslan Qadir (17th minute, 59th) turned out to be the hero for Pakistan as he scored the winner just one minute from full time. Pakistan's other scorers were Muhammad Waqas (32nd) and Muhammad Irfan (44th), while India's struck through Gurjinder Singh (12), Dharamvir Singh (38) and Nikkin Thimmaiah (44).
Pakistani players celebrated their victory by hurling indecent and obscene gestures towards the crowds and Indian media and were promptly rebuked by coach Shahnaz Shiekh. (Coach apologises, FIH to probe incident)
It was a good chance for India to register their best-ever performance in the history of Champions Trophy but they couldn't achieve the feat and buckled under pressure.
India's best-ever showing in the Champions Trophy is a bronze medal in 1982 edition of the tournament in Amstelveen, the Netherlands. India wasted chances galore which cost them dearly.
The Indians created opportunities but Sardar Singh, Nikkin, SV Sunil and Ramandeep Singh all misfired on numerous occasions from clear opening. India looked nervous at the beginning which showed in their performance.
The Indians were sloppy as they kept losing the ball frequently. Rupinder Pal Singh looked off colour at the back. Pakistan, on the other hand, looked more organised and kept pressurising the Indian defence.
Rupinder was out-of-sorts at least in the first half as he kept losing the ball frequently and from one such occasion Pakistan created the first real scoring chance of the match in the sixth, but an alert Indian goalie P R Sreejesh came to his side's rescue with a fine save to deny Muhammad Dilbar.
Minutes later, Pakistan again looked threatening but Umar Bhutta's deflection from Shafqat Rasools cross went just wide of the goal. But it was India which took the lead against the run of play scoring from their first chance. The Indians earned their first penalty corner and Gurjinder Singh made no mistake in blasting the ball into the left corner of the Pakistan net with a powerful flick. Pakistan went for referral but their appeal was disallowed.
Pakistan then won their first short corner soon but wasted the chance in search of a variation before Sreejesh blocked Shakeel Ahmed Butts slap shot. Gurbaj Singhs 10 minute suspension for a yellow card hurt India badly as it created open spaces in the Indian defence, resulting in Pakistans equaliser.
Muhammad Arsalan Qadir caught the Indian defence off guard and neatly deflected home Butts cross to draw parity for Pakistan. India got a golden chance to restore their lead soon but Rupinders try from their second penalty corner was easily kept out by Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt.
Germany beat Australia 3-2 in 1st semi-final
Earlier, Germany ended Australia's long reign as Champions Trophy holders, eliminating the Kookaburras 3-2 in a thrilling first semi-final tussle.
The Aussies have held the trophy since 2008, winning five successive titles, while Germany had not won a medal since 2009. They built a 3-0 lead by the early stages of the second half and while Australia fought back, Germany had just enough in the tank to get over the line.
The Germans got off to a dream start with two goals in the first nine minutes. Timur Oruz converted a diagonal pass from Lukas Windfeder. Mats Grambusch then extended the lead when the ball bounced back to him after the Kookaburras struggled to clear their lines.
His powerful shot took a deflection off Fergus Kavanagh's foot to give Aussie goalkeeper Andrew Charter no chance of blocking the ball.
Australia did have their moments to reduce the margin but it remained 2-0 until half-time.
A minute after half-time, Germany were 3-0 up as Florian Fuchs unleashed a beautiful punch shot into the roof of the net from a narrow angle.
Australia duly launched their fightback and had a lifeline in the 34th minute when Chris Ciriello dragged home his fourth goal of the competition.
And they were right back in the mix when Nick Budgeon smashed home seven minutes later following a scramble in front of the German goal.
It set up a grandstand finish in which Australia piled forward in numbers but they could not take advantage from a corner and a number of goalmouth melees, leaving Germany to celebrate.