After squandered at least three gilt-edged chances to take the lead in the first two quarters, Akashdeep (44th minute) received a superb through ball inside the striking circle and without turning he flicked the ball through his legs in spectacular style into the goal past the South Korean custodian Myungho Lee just one minute before the end of the third 15-minute quarter.

The Indian men's hockey team, which last made it to the final of the Asiad way back in 2002 Busan Games, will now face the winner of the other semifinal between arch-rivals Pakistan and Malaysia in the summit clash on Thursday with the title winners grabbing a direct berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The victory was India's eighth against Korea in the Asian Games in 14 games, against two losses, and was the 29th overall in 72 matches in all competitions.

The win also helped India reach the final, assuring them of at least the silver medal, for the first time since the 2002 Busan Games. They did not make the semis in 2006 at Doha and then four years ago were shocked by Malaysia in the semi-finals.

The Indians were by far the dominant side on display against Korea in the entire 60 minutes today and controlled the proceedings from the word go.

The Koreans played catch-up hockey throughout the match but failed to break the resolute Indian defence.

There was hardly any clear scoring opportunity for the Koreans, whereas India threatened the opponent goal throughout the encounter.

There was plan, purpose and poise in India's display and the major difference was the defense which held well right through.

The midfield, with captain Sardar Singh marshalling the resources, also gave the extra edge to the attack with some excellent passes but the frontline was again guilty of squandering a few very good chances.

India should have been at least two goals up before the halfway stage of the match but Dharamveer Singh was guilty of frittering away the opportunities.

India had the first shave at the goal in the fifth minute of the game from a counter-attack but Dharamvir missed a sitter as he overrun a pass from S V Sunil with only the Korean goalkeeper Lee to beat.

Three minutes into the second quarter, India earned two back-to-back penalty corners but Korean custodian Lee made a fantastic save to his right to deny V R Raghunath a goal.

In the fifth minute of the second quarter Dharamvir was again found wanting when the rebound came to him off the Korean custodian's pads but he missed the chance.

Then Ramandeep shot wide on the run from the top of the circle, a difficult chance before the teams trooped off for the big break deadlocked at 0-0.

Two minutes before the match-winner came another chance India's way when Sardar and Gurwinder Chandi combined forces to spreadeagle the rival defence but the latter's cross from the right went abegging as Ramandeep was not in position.

But all these faded in memory once Akashdeep found the match winner.

Knowing India's past record of conceding late goals the fans were on tenterhooks.

Trailing by a goal, the Koreans mounted attacks on the Indian goal in the last quarter of the match but failed to
break the stubborn Indian defense.

It was a tense last five minutes of the match for the Indians as they were forced to fall back and defend.

The Indians must have had the heart in their mouth when Korea earned their only penalty corner of the match just two minutes from the final hooter but the Indian defense was upto the task to deny the equalising goal to the hosts.

India then attacked and kept the ball in the rival half till the final hooter to enter the gold medal clash.

India's chief coach Terry Walsh later said that though the team frittered away some chances, he was pleased with the energy the players displayed.

"We knew Korea is a very good team and so it proved. It was a tough match. We made some chances which were not taken but as a team we brought in a lot of energy into the game and continued to show it right through," he said.

"Several of our players stepped a level higher than they showed so far. There is a lot of difference from playing in the league stage and in the cross-overs. The last time we played in the final we lost 0-4 to Australia in the Commonwealth Games. This is a learning process," the Australian said.

Walsh said he had his own thoughts about the four-quarter game but said Indians generally tend to be slow starters after a stoppage and this was one area that was addressed to some extent.

Though he was happy with the win, Walsh said the ball handling of the players still need to improve.

"Ball handling still is not that good. We kept them down to one penalty corner, that too late in the match, which was good," he said.

Walsh said now his main concern is recovery of the players for the gold medal contest in two days' time.

"The most important part is recovery," he said.

Asked how he turned things around after the loss against Pakistan, Walsh said: "We worked through discussions and seeing video displays."

But he also said that Asian hockey as a whole has fallen behind Australia and Europe and this aspect needs to be addressed.

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