SOHAIL Abbas' trademark penalty corner goal helped Pakistan edge rivals India 3-2 in a thrilling Group B encounter, which was stopped for about 45 minutes due to the heavy downpour, in the 8th AirAsia Men's Asia Cup at the Wisma Belia Stadium in Kuantan yesterday.
Sohail, in his first international tournament after two years, only found his rhythm in his fourth penalty corner attempt, when he sent a low drive past India's goalkeeper Baljit Singh in the 55th minute for the winning goal which ensured Pakistan a spot in the semi-finals.
Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan said his players played their hearts out yesterday to notch this important victory.
"It's always a pressure game against India. We took our chances well and it made the difference. I told my players to play aggressive and it left India back trekking in most periods of the match," said Shahid yesterday.
India started on the right note when Prabhjot Singh scored off the rebound from the penalty corner attempt by captain Sandeep Singh in the 16th minute.
Pakistan players protested as they felt Prabhjot had committed a foul but it was turned down by New Zealand umpire Simon Taylor.
Pakistan began to make inroads deep in India's defence and were awarded when Haseem Khan, after getting past Sandeep, sent a delightful reverse attempt into the top net leaving keeper Baljit Singh rooted in the 32nd minute.
The Pakistan team were inspired and shocked India's sleepy defence when they took a 2-1 lead through Haseem's field attempt in the 36th minute.
India turned on the heat and found their equaliser when Sardar Singh deflected a pass from Gurbaj Singh, 10 minutes later. After the goal, the technical officer stopped the match for nearly 45 minutes due to the heavy downpour.
Pakistan dominated proceedings and deservingly scored their third though Sohail in the 56th minute. India turned on the heat and pressed for an equaliser but to no avail.
India, the defending champions, have to beat China tomorrow, to earn a place in the semi-finals.