Sohail Abbas scored from a penalty corner in the 26th minute to give Pakistan the lead over Malaysia. —AFP Photo

GUANGZHOU: Pakistan bagged its third gold medal of the 2010 Asian Games when it defeated Malaysia 2-0 in the final in Guangzhou, China on Thursday.

Fired-up Pakistan annexed the Asian Games men’s hockey gold medal after 20 years with the final win.

Specialist drag-flicker Sohail Abbas gave Pakistan the lead in the 28th minute when he converted from a penalty corner. Abbas slammed home the ball in the top right corner in Pakistan’s second attack of the first half.

Striker Rehan Butt then consolidated the lead three minutes into the second half when he hit a close-range goal from open play (in the 38th minute).

It was Pakistan’s eighth Asiad hockey gold, ending a drought that stretched back to Beijing in 1990, and handed them their first major title since winning the World Cup in Sydney in 1994.

Pakistan ended the year on a high after a disappointing eight-month period in which they finished a humiliating 12th out of 12 at the World Cup in March and took sixth place at the Commonwealth Games in October.

The Pakistanis kneeled in prayer after the final whistle, before lifting their Dutch coach Michel van den Heuvel over their shoulders to loud applause from the stands.

Malaysia, often dubbed the sport’s perennial under-achievers, had to settle for silver in their maiden appearance in the title clash after winning the bronze medal six times.

The entire Malaysian team, barring Sikh player Baljit Singh, shaved their heads in a practice called ‘nazar’ to ward off evil spirits in the final, but failed to produce the spark that won them the semi-final against India.

Amin Rahim, whose two late goals sank India, faltered in all three penalty corners his team earned in the second half.

Malaysia had gone into the final as the only unbeaten team in the competition with four wins and a draw.

By winning the final, Pakistan has also confirmed it’s berth at the 2012 London Olympics.