Donghae City (South Korea), May 17 (IANS) Defending Champions India registered their third consecutive victory at the fifth Women's Asian Champions Trophy as they best Malaysia 3-2 in a closely-fought encounter at the Sunrise Stadium here on Thursday.
India had earlier beaten Japan 4-1 and China 3-1 in their previous matches. With three convincing wins, India have qualified for the final on Sunday as table toppers with nine points.
For India, goals were scored by Gurjit Kaur (17th minute), Vandana Katariya (33rd) and Lalremsiami (40th) while Nuraini Rashid (36th) and Hanis Onn (48th) scored for Malaysia.
The first quarter saw both teams trade penalty corners with India opening the account in the very first minute of the match which put Malaysia on a backfoot.
However, good penalty corner defending saw Malaysia steer clear of an early goal by dragflicker Gurjit Kaur. Malaysia's attempt to score off a penalty corner too was overturned by Indian defenders.
India, who had beaten Malaysia 6-0 in the warm-up match ahead of the start of the tournament, made their first break through when penalty corner specialist Gurjit Kaur improvised on Lilima Minz' injection to strike the ball past Malaysian goalkeeper.
She kept her flick low to find the bottom right corner of the post, fetching India a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
But India did not look their attacking best with Malaysia often denting their chances in the circle and kept the pressure on the visitors. The Malaysian goalkeeper came up with impressive saves to keep India from scoring from PCs.
However, the 10-minute half-time break helped India come back with fresh variations to score.
High pressure worked as India scored off a counter attack when a quick-thinking Vandana dispossessed Malaysian attacker inside India's striking circle to score in the 33rd minute.
Soon after, India conceded a penalty stroke when defender Deep Grace caused an infringement while attempting to stop a Malaysian attacker from taking a shot on goal. Nuraini Rashid easily converted.
The following minutes saw India win as many as three penalty corners but couldn't make much of it.
Meanwhile, a brilliant long pass by skipper Sunita Lakra to the striking circle was deflected into the post by young forward Lalremsiami from the top of the circle displaying a perfect one-touch hockey.
The goal took India's lead to 3-1 in the 40th minute. The final quarter saw Malaysia make amends to missed chances as they vied for late goals.
Though Hanis Onn did well to score Malaysia's second goal, they could not muster an equaliser or a winning goal.