Harmanpreet Singh scored a hat-trick of penalty corner conversions to give India a 4-1 victory over South Korea in the Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 here on Wednesday.
The result also knocked the Koreans out of semi-final contention. Harmanpreet opened the Indian scoring in the fifth minute with a firm drag-flick and returned to score two goals in the last quarter with rasping shots in the 47th and 59th minute to become the tournament's third player to score a treble.
India's Dilpreet Singh and Pakistan's Aleem Bilal are the other players to have registered hat-tricks in the Asian Champions Trophy. After Harmanpreet opened the scoring, Gurjant made it 2-0 in the 10th minute when he picked up a through ball on top of the circle, turned around and sent a stinging shot into the boards.
Lee Seung-Il brought Korea back into the game with an opportunist strike in the 20th minute.
Lee picked a short pass inside the scoring zone and sent a rasping shot into the top left corner of the goal, but Korea could not deliver goal-bearing shots in some openings they created after half-time.
Harmanpreet's return to goal-scoring action sealed the fate of the encounter."I feel happy the way I am shooting the penalty corners. I just focused on a job and the goals came," said Harmanpreet.
After Korea's loss in their last preliminary league outing, they are left on three points. The four semi-finalists have been decided, but the league standings will be finalized only after Malaysia, Pakistan and Japan play their last preliminary round matches on Thursday.
India stayed on top of the standings with 13 points from five outings, followed by Malaysia on 10 points from four matches, Pakistan on seven points from four outings and Japan on four points in four games.
Korea will play Oman Saturday in the play-off to decide the fifth and sixth positions.
Hosts Oman, who are yet to earn a point from four fixtures, still have a game against Japan remaining.
Even a victory over Asian Games gold medallists Japan, Oman cannot log more than three points. Indian coach Harendra Singh was all praise for Harmanpreet.
"He is one of the best penalty flickers in the game," the coach said.