Chennai, Aug 7 (PTI) Goals from Muhammad Khan and Afraz helped Pakistan eke out a 2-1 victory over China to stay in the race for the semifinals in the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament here on Monday.
However, the defeat meant that China were knocked out of contention for the last-four stage.
The opening quarter happened to be a quiet one in terms of goal-scoring activities.
Pakistan earned a couple of penalty corners but failed to convert them. It was followed by a field goal chance from both sides, but to no avail, as it was goalless at the end of the first quarter.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Pakistan earned a penalty corner and Muhammad Khan successfully converted it to give his side the lead.
While China challenged the goal through video referral for dangerous height, the TV umpire ruled it in favour of Pakistan.
After a couple of more chances for Pakistan, including a penalty corner, it led 1-0 at the half-time break.
Two minutes following the restart, China showed some urgency and earned a penalty corner in the process, which was converted into a goal by Jiesheng Gao to draw level.
At this time, Pakistan's Ahtisham Aslam received a yellow card, while Abdul Rehman was green-carded.
Nevertheless, in the 39th minute, Pakistan restored their lead, thanks to some passing game through skipper Umar Bhutta and Abdul Rana before Afraz angled it into the goal.
With Pakistan up 2-1 at the end of the third quarter, China upped their ante and switched to more possession and passing, while Pakistan began to press high.
But the tactics didn't seem to work for the Chinese, as the Pakistanis managed to hold on to the slender lead to take home the three points at full-time.
Pakistan take on hosts and arch-rivals India on Wednesday in a potentially high-voltage match, while China face Japan in their last fixture.