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Asian Champions Trophy 2016: Pakistan inch closer to semis after narrow win over Japan

Kuantan (Malaysia): Defending champions Pakistan rode on two penalty corner goals from Muhammad Aleem Bilal to survive a scare and prevail 4-3 over Japan in the fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey in Kuantan, Malaysia on Tuesday.

Japan are still without a point from four outings in the round-robin league, but were pressing for an equaliser when the rain-disruption encounter against Pakistan came to an end.

Pakistan, who placed one foot in the semifinals with this victory, now have six points from four games with a fixture against China remaining.

Pakistan. Image courtesy: Malaysian Hockey Confederation via Twitter.

Pakistan have one game left, which will be against China. Image courtesy: Malaysian Hockey Confederation via Twitter.

In the encounter that featured two breaks for a total of 40 minutes due to torrential showers, Pakistan took the initial lead in the fifth minute through Muhammad Irfan Jr open field strike.

Japan equalised through a field goal by Seren Tanka in the 10th minute, only to see Bilal convert a penalty corner at the other end two minutes later to make it 2-1 for Pakistan.

Attacking in unison, Japan breached the Pakistan defence to draw 2-2 parity in the last minute of the first half through a flash strike by Kenta Tanka.

Pakistan's third goal came through the quick-silver reflexes of Muhammad Rizwan Sr Following the deflection from a Japanese defender in a packed circle, Rizwan Sr stretched to reach the ball and sent a snap reverse shot into the citadel, surprising goalkeeper Genki Mitani with his shot from the narrow angle.

Soon after, heavy showers caused interruption of the match with the player coming off the field. The game resumed for five minute before the players were forced to return to the dressing room as the skies opened up again.

Bilal scored his second panalty corner goal in the 52nd minute to make it 4-2, but Pakistan defence faced some late pressure from Japan.

Hirotaka Zendana converted a penalty stroke in the 54th minute to bring Japan within one goal of Pakistan's score, but failed in their effort to score another goal during the last five minutes.

Updated Date: Oct 25, 2016 20:58 PM

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