Pakistan and Japan settle for a thrilling 3-3 draw

CHENNAI, Aug 6: Pakistan and Japan gave it their all in the Asian Champions Trophy round-robin match before settling for a thrilling 3-3 draw here on Sunday.

The result keeps both the teams in contention for semifinal berths, with Japan placed fourth on the points table followed by Pakistan on fifth.

Both teams went into attacking mode right from the start with Pakistan opening their account in the ninth minute, courtesy a goal from Abdul Rana, who had missed the last game against defending champion South Korea. Muhammad Khan’s initial shot was saved by the Japanese goalkeeper before Rana, who was backing up, slotted home.

Japan did not take long to equalise, as four minutes later, Seren Tanaka angled the ball in from Yuma Nagai’s assist to score a field goal in the final moments of the first quarter. Pakistan kept the tempo high in the second quarter, coming up with a couple of scoring chances.

Five minutes before half time, the ‘Men in Green’ restored the lead through a penalty corner with Muhammad Khan making no mistake in shooting it past the Japanese goalkeeper. Following the change of ends, the Japanese showed urgency and started to use the flanks more efficiently. They had a penalty corner decision overturned through a video referral, but struck in the 37th minute. Takuma Niwa set it up for Ryosei Kato to help Japan draw level again.

Just when the third quarter was about to end, the Japanese earned another penalty corner, and skipper Masaki Ohashi flicked it in with all his force to give his side the upper hand.

The third quarter also saw Pakistan’s Muhammad Ammad and Muhammad Khan being shown the green cards for reckless interceptions. Japan changed tactics in the final quarter, trying to keep possession of the ball as much as possible. The short-pass tactic did work for the Japanese and they managed to breach the rival defence on several occasions but a goal eluded them.

Pakistan earned an opportunistic penalty corner in the 55th minute and Muhammad Khan successfully converted it to draw level. Pakistan will take on China on Monday, while Japan face tricky challengers Malaysia the same day. (PTI)