New Delhi: India crashed out of the Hero Junior Men`s Hockey World Cup after being held 3-3 by Korea in a must-win Pool C match at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Tuesday.
The draw means both India and Korea finished their pool engagement with four points apiece but it was not enough for the home team to qualify for the quarterfinals as they needed a win today.
The draw, however, was more than enough for the Koreans to progress to the knock-out stage as they have a better goal difference than the Indians.
Korea finished second while Netherlands topped the pool with three wins from as many games. The Dutch thrashed lowly Canada 7-0 in their last league encounter earlier in the day.
Korea rode on a brilliant hat-trick from star drag-flicker Seungju You (16th, 58th and 60th) to shut the door on India. Trailing 1-3 at one stage, Korea showed great fighting spirit as Seungju You converted two set pieces to turn the game around.
For India, Gurjinder Singh (32nd and 35th) scored two goals through penalty corners, while the other came through a field effort from Mandeep Singh (45th).
Fully aware that only a win can secure their place in the quarterfinals, the Indians started on an attacking mode and earned a penalty corner as early as in the second minute of the match but Amit Rohidas` low flick was kept away by an agile Seyoung Lee in Korean goal.
The Koreans were not to be left behind as they matched the Indians stick by stick. The hosts should consider themselves lucky as Korea came tantalisingly close to taking the lead when Seungju You`s high drag-flick from Korea`s first penalty corner was denied by the cross bar.
In the 11th minute, Mandeep Singh wasted a golden opportunity to put India ahead as he shot over from the top of Korean circle with only the goalie to beat.
India enjoyed the lions share of possession in the opening period but it was Korea who stunned the sparse home crowd present at the stadium by taking the lead in the 16th minute.
Korea earned two penalty corners in quick succession and from the second one, Seungju You scored to put his side ahead.
Jolted by the goal, India went on the offensive and managed to earn two penalty corners in a span of three minutes.
While on first occasion, Rohidas faltered yet again, Gurjinder made no mistake with the second chance and drew parity for India with a fierce drag-flick that crashed on to the top right of the Korean goal.
Gurjinder as once again at the thick of things just at the stroke of half time by converting another penalty corner with precision to help India go into the breather with a 2-1 lead.
After the change of ends, India continued from where they left in the opening half and maintained their dominance over the Koreans.
Nine minutes into the second half, India got an opportunity to extend their lead when the hosts earned their fifth penalty corner but this time Gurjinder was off target.
India made the scoreline 3-1 in their favour a minute later when Mandeep tapped from close range after he was set up by a fine one-two from Ramdeep Singh and Satbir Singh.
But the Indians were in for a rude shock as Korea made remarkable comeback in the last 12 minutes of the game to shatter the home team`s hopes.
The Indians had themselves to blame as once again lapse in concentration from their defenders cost them dearly.
The Indians conceded two penalty corners in a span of three minutes and Sinuiju You was bang on target with both the efforts to bring Korea back into the match.
Thereafter, the Indians tried hard for the all-important winner and mounted numerous raids into the rival citadel but the Koreans defended in numbers to deny the hosts.
India will now play Argentina in the 9-12 classification match on Thursday while Korea will take on Malaysia in the quarterfinals.
In the other quarterfinals, Belgium will face France, Australia take on holders Germany and Netherlands will be up against New Zealand.