Unbeaten India continued their sparkling form, defeating Asian Games silver medallist South Korea 2-0 to enter the final of the women's Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Ranchi on Saturday. (Hockey News)
The Indians, who thrashed Korea 5-0 in their final round-robin match, scored through Salima Tete (11th minute) and Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke (19th) to emerge winners.
Asian Games bronze medallist India will take on Japan in the final on Sunday. The Japanese eked out a narrow 2-1 win over Asian Games champions China in the first semifinal.
Kana Urata (34th minute) and Miyu Suzuki (44th) scored for Japan, while China's lone strike came from the stick of Tiantian Luo (11th).
In the second semifinal later in the day, the Indians started from where they left and pressed hard on the Japanese goal from the onset with relentless attacks.
India's ploy resulted in successive penalty corners in the third minute of the first quarter but the Japanese defence stood tall with goalkeeper Kim Eunji making a good save to deny Deepika from the second attempt.
A minute later Monika came agonisingly close to scoring from open play from a counter-attack but her shot to the bottom corner went inches off the target.
India's relentless pressure finally tasted success in the 11th minute when Salima gave the lead after being set up by Udita from a counter-attack to end the first quarter with a slender one goal advantage.
The Indians started with the same intensity in the second quarter and doubled their lead four minutes later from a penalty corner.
Vaishnavi scored from a rebound from close range with a reverse flick after Deep Grace Ekka's flick was saved by the Korean goalkeeper.
India won another penalty corner in the 27th minute but Deep Grace's flick from the third battery was brilliantly saved by Korean keeper Eunji as the hosts went into the halfway break with a two-goal cushion.
Trailing by two goals, the Koreans looked more positive in the third quarter and made some attacking moves into the Indian citadel but were not able to realise them into goals.
The Koreans soon earned back-to-back penalty corners but failed to penetrate the Indian defence.
In return, India secured a penalty corner but failed to find the back of the net despite getting opportunities from three rebounds.
Penalty corners came thick and fast for India but they failed to utilise the chances, which definitely would be a cause of concern for the team's chief coach Janneke Schopman going forward.
India secured their seventh penalty corner three minutes into the fourth and final quarter, but failed to utilise the opportunity.
Thereafter, the Indians preferred to play safe and was content in defending their two-goal advantage, especially after being down by two players -- Jyoti and Vandana Kataraiya, who were shown cards in the final five minutes of the game.
Korea took advantage of the two player advantage and pressed hard on the Indian defence and in the process secured another penalty corner four minutes from the final hooter but failed to beat India captain Savita Punia in front of the goal.