Ipoh: India squandered numerous scoring chances before two late goals sealed their 3-1 victory over Canada in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday.
Failing to exert pressure despite taking an early lead, India hung on grimly against several threatening Canadian raids to clinch their second victory in three outings.
Chandana Thimmaiah opened the Indian account in the third minute, but Keegan Pereira equalised for Canada in the 23rd minute to be 1-1 level at half-time.
Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner in the 41st minute and Talwinder Singh capitalised on a Sardar Singh cross into the circle in the 67th to seal the fate of the match.
With six points from three outings, India are now third in the round-robin league standings. On top of the table are Australia with nine points from three successive wins, followed by New Zealand on eight from four outings.
Earlier in the day, Australia outplayed Pakistan 4-0, while New Zealand defeated Japan 4-1.
India's defence came under a lot of pressure today against Canada, who like India are drawn in Group B of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Goalkeeper Harjot Singh made a blunder of conceding the first penalty corner, but made a few good saves before he was replaced by Akash Chikte in the second quarter. Both the goalkeepers saved four good cracks at the Indian citadel from the Canadian strikers.
India opened the scoring in the third minute off a fine long ball by Rupinder Pal Singh from deep inside the Indian territory that found unmarked SV Sunil on top of the Canadian circle.
Trapping the ball cleanly, Sunil sent a cross that beat goalkeeper David Carter and left Thimmaiah to top the ball into an open goal.
The game thereafter was confined to the midfield until Canada forced their first penalty corner in the 13th minute and the low shot from Gordon Johnston was blocked by Indian custodian Harjot.
Harjot again came to India's rescue in the next minute when he made another fine save on Pereira's lunging reverse drive from close range.
India then had a brief period of domination when they thrice made forays into the rival scoring zone, but failed to get their shots past the compact defence in the crowded circle.