Pakistan beat England 2-1 to move into hockey final

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Melbourne, Mar 24 (UNI) Striker Shakeel Abbasi scored the golden goal in extra time to steer Pakistan into the final with a narrow 2-1 win over England in the hockey competition of Commonwealth Games here today.

In the semifinal today, both sides were locked 1-1 during full time after a barren first half and Abbasi set up Pakistan's victory by brilliantly moving into the circle and flicking the ball high into the nets in front of a surprised England players who could not believe that the match was over for them.

Abbasi was also the scorer of Pakistan's lead-taking goal in the second half.

Pakistan will take on defending champions Australia in the final on Sunday after a day's rest tomorrow and Pakistan is making their first ever appearance in the Commonwealth Games hockey final.

But, before going into the extra time, Pakistan could not maintain their hold over their one goal lead as England exerted full force to score the equaliser and in the process gained three quick penalty corners and off the seventh such corner for England, Matthew Daly brought the two teams at par with just two minutes remaining.

Both the former Olympic champions demonstrated cautious play and most of the game in the first half was confined to the midfield and failed to produce any dazzling move by either side.

Pakistani forwards tried to stretch both the right and left flanks but England cut down all such attacking efforts with strong defence and taking possession of the ball for long time.

Pakistan wasted their lone penalty corner of the first half and England missed three similar chances with direct or indirect conversion drills.

In the 44th minute of second half, striker Mudassar Khan's stinging reverse hit was superbly blocked by rival goalkeeper Jonathan Ebsworth before England wasted their fourth penalty corner in the beginning of the half.

With time ticking away, Pakistan made desperate efforts and their change of plans to penetrate from the midfield helped them in paralysing the England defence.

Passing through the England defence like a whirlwind, Muhammad Shabbir guided a through pass to Abbasi whose power-packed flick landed in the roof of net in the 54th minute.

Before taking the lead, Pakistan wasted their second penalty corner and a couple of brave attempts by Muhammad Saqlain and Rehan was padded away by rival goalkeeper.

England stunned Pakistan by hammering the equaliser, converting their seventh penalty corner in the 68th minute before wasting two similar chances in two minutes in 60th and 61st minutes.

Pakistan also wasted their third and last penalty corner in the 59th minute with poor stopping of ball.

Jonathan's superb push which directly went into the nets was enough to beat the defenders and lanky custodian Slaman Akbar.

In the first half of the extra time of seven and a half minute, Pakistan relied on their skills rather on speed and engineered a move in which star striker Rehan done all the basic work for drawing up a goal and Abbasi once again dominated with a forceful flick in the 73rd minute and England players threw their sticks in disbelieve that they have lost the match after being so close.

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