Sports Hero Harmanpreet

Harmanpreet Singh of India in action during the 5th/6th place match between India and Canada on day nine of the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Center June 25, 2017 in London, England. Harmanpreet Singh led India to victory over Japan in its first match in the Hero Asia Cup. (Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

DHAKA — Drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh fired a brace as India began its Hero Asia Cup hockey campaign with a 5-1 emphatic win over Japan here Oct. 11.

Apart from Harmanpreet Singh (35th, 48th minute), S.V. Sunil (third minute), Lalit Upadhyay (22nd), Ramandeep Singh (33th) were the goal-scorers for India as they emerged victorious by a big margin.

Sjoerd Marijne-coached India started the match with an early goal in the third minute, which came on a counter-attack. Akashdeep Singh won the ball in midfield and played a through pass to Sunil, who then beat the rival goalkeeper to score.

However, Japan hit back and were quick to equalize within a minute as Kenji Kitazato received a cross from the left and slid the ball past Indian custodian Suraj Karkerain.

Both the teams looked threatening in the second quarter as they looked to get the lead in the match. 

India's counter-attacking was again sublime in the 22nd minute as forward Upadhyay beautifully brought down a long ball from Harmanpreet Singh from left, made a turn and shot at the Japanese goal to give the lead to Asia's number one ranked team.

The third quarter also went India's way as they scored just two minutes after the resumption of play when Ramandeep Singh made a fierce strike from the right flank to score India's third goal of the day in the 33rd minute.

The Indian team then won a penalty corner in the 35th minute, which was well converted by drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh to make it 4-1 in India's favor. 

India did not let Japan make a comeback into the game and kept the possession to end the third quarter with the same scoreline.

The Indian team did not stop attacking the Japanese defense as they won a penalty corner in the 48th minute. It was Harmanpreet Singh who scored his second goal of the match to make it 5-1 in India's favor to complete the scoring.

India will now play Bangladesh in their next Pool A encounter Oct. 13.

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