JAKARTA - History was made on Saturday as the Japan men's hockey team won their first-ever Asian Games gold medal after beating Malaysia.
The Speedy Tigers, who were leading 5-2 at one point, lost on penalties after drawing 6-6 in regular time at the GBK Hockey Field in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Stephen van Huizen's team raced to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, with Razie Rahim's penalty corner goal and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin's brace sandwiching Seren Tanaka's goal.
In the second quarter, Faizal Saari increased Malaysia's lead in the 17th minute before Kenta Tanaka pegged one back for Japan. After a quiet third quarter, the floodgates reopened in the final 15 minutes with Kentaro Fukuda striking twice in between Amirol Aideed's 49th minute penalty corner goal, before Koji Yamasaki equalised for Japan.
Razie thought he had won it for Malaysia with his second penalty corner goal of the night in the 58th minute, but Hiromasa Ochiai sent the match into extra time in the dying seconds.
Malaysia, who beat defending champions India on penalties two days ago, were unable to repeat the feat and lost 3-1 in the penalty shootout to equal their best achievement of winning silver in 2010. As for Japan, coupled with their women's hockey team's 2-1 against India on Friday, they became the second nation to win both hockey gold medals at the same Asian Games since South Korea in 1986 and 1994.
In an earlier men's hockey bronze medal match, India beat Pakistan 2-1.
The Indian men's maintained their recent domination over Pakistan after a below-par semifinal performance against Malaysia. Akashdeep Singh scored a brilliant field goal in the third minute to give India an early lead, while Harmanpreet Singh doubled the advantage in the 50th minute off a penalty corner.
Muhammad Atiq increased the heart rate of Indian fans reducing the margin in the 52nd minute from a counter-attack. But the Indians didn't repeat the same mistake which they committed against Malaysia in the semi-finals and managed to hold on to the lead to at least redeem some pride.
Another late equaliser against India was on the cards and the match was turning out to be a typical Indo-Pak thriller but somehow the Indians managed to hold on to the lead. With Pakistan withdrawing their goalkeeper in search of the equaliser, Mandeep Singh got a golden chance to make it 3-1 for India in the 60th minute but he failed to execute with only a defender to beat.
World number five India, who came into the tournament as favourites being the defending champions, will go back home with a bronze, having beaten 13th ranked Pakistan for the second time in the last three months. The Indians had defeated Pakistan 4-0 in the Champions Trophy in June.