Golden goal of Raghunath puts India in semifinals

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Johannesburg: V R Raghunath slammed a golden goal in the last minute of extra-time as India beat Malaysia 5-4 in a thrilling match to advance to the semifinals of the Champions Challenge hockey tournament here today. Raghunath sent a low shot into the left corner of the goal after a late recovery saw India level 4-4 in regulation period of the action-packed quarterfinal encounter.

The Indian goal had two narrow shaves in sudden-death extra-time when breakaway moves saw Malaysian strikers Faizal Saari and Izwan Firdaus in one-on-one position with goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, but delayed shots by the home side players allowed India stay in the contest. The Indians were ahead 2-0 before Malaysia struck back to slam four goals. Then, the desperate Indians scored twice in the last six minutes of the regulation period to take the game into extra-time.

Sandeep Singh converted two successive penalty corners, in the sixth and 23rd minutes to give India a 2-0 lead before Malaysia staged a remarkable rally and controlled the game until the 64th minute. Izwan Firdaus opened Malaysia`s scoring with a field goal in the 33rd minute off a pass from Azlan Misron and India were leading 2-1 at half-time.

Misron got he Malaysian equaliser in the 42nd minute as he flicked past a crowded defence and over the Indian goalkeeper. Malaysia`s third goal came on a breakaway move in 46th minute that caught the Indian defence off-guard. Goalkeeper Sreejesh blocked the first shot from Tengku Ahmed who then slammed the board with a firm shot on the rebound. Misron scored his second goal from Malaysia`s second penalty corner, deflecting Amin Rahim`s shot in a set-piece execution in the 56th minute.

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