INCHEON - India beat Pakistan in a penalty shoot-out on Thursday to win back the Asian Games hockey title after 16 years and earn direct entry to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The arch-rivals played out a 1-1 draw in regulation time before Indian goalkeeper Parattu Sreejesh became his side's saviour by saving two of Pakistan's four penalty attempts.

India put four goals past Pakistan's Imran Butt to win the shoot-out 4-2 and clinch their third Asiad gold medal, but the first since the Bangkok Games in 1998. "This is a special moment for Indian hockey," said the team's Australian coach Terry Walsh. "Most of the guys had not played a big final for a long time so I am very happy for them to have accomplished the task. We should have finished the game in regulation time. We are not perfect, we still need to work on many weaknesses. But for now, I want the boys to enjoy the moment. They have done well."

Some 4,000 fans, including Games competitors from both nations, packed the Seonhak hockey stadium to witness the first India-Pakistan Asiad final in 32 years. The defeat prolonged the misery for defending champions Pakistan, who failed to qualify for this year's World Cup and now face a hazardous qualification road to Rio.

"This has been a difficult period for Pakistan hockey because we have not played international matches for almost a year," said coach Shahnaz Sheikh, a renowned former striker. "That's why I am very proud of my young team. They lost just one match in this tournament and showed a lot of maturity. This was a close game as the result shows."

Sheikh urged foreign teams to visit Pakistan and help support the country's hockey. "We will not improve unless we get more exposure," he said. "Please come and play with us. Hockey needs Pakistan as much as Pakistan needs hockey." The match did not live up to its hype as both teams missed scoring opportunities, especially India who had the better of the exchanges in three of the four quarters.

Pakistan seized an early opening in the third minute as a swift move down the middle wrong-footed the Indian defence and Muhammad Rizwan scored from the top of the circle. India bounced back in the second quarter with repeated attacks on the Pakistani circle and after three missed chances, they drew level in the 27th minute when Kothajit Singh tapped in a pass from the flank. The match passed off without incident except for a brief scuffle in the second quarter when a raised Indian stick hit a Pakistani player, but the umpires stepped in to cool tempers.

Earlier, South Korea won the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over Guangzhou silver-medallists Malaysia, with three of the five goals coming through penalty strokes. Jang Jong-Hyun scored twice for the hosts to finish as the leading scorer of the competition with nine goals. "Our target before the tournament was to win the gold so the players were obviously very disappointed," said Korean coach Shin Seok-kyu. "But I told them this medal was as good as winning the gold."