Ipoh (Malaysia): New Zealand on Saturday eked out a hard-fought 3-3 draw against Korea to seal their place in the final of the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, while hosts Malaysia beat a lowly Canada in an inconsequential league match here.
A draw was enough for the Black Sticks to qualify for Sunday's final against world champions Australia, and they just about managed to secure one against the Koreans, who needed an outright win at the Azlan Shah Stadium to progress to the summit clash.
New Zealand took the lead as early as in the fourth minute of the match through a field goal from Ryan Archibald before Korea equalised through a penalty corner conversion by Nam Hyunwoo (11th minute).
Korea then surged ahead in the 32nd minute with another penalty corner conversion by Hyunwoo.
The Black Sticks, however, struck twice late into the fourth quarter to take a 3-2 lead. First Nick Haig (41st minute) converted a penalty corner and then skipper Simon Child scored from a field effort to enjoy a slender advantage.
But New Zealand's joy was shortlived as Lee Namyoung (45th) converted a short corner just before the end of the third quarter to level the scores for Korea.
Thereafter, the Koreans pressed hard for the winner but New Zealand's defence just did enough to hold their opponents.
Meanwhile, in the last match of the day, Malaysia proved too strong for Canada as the home team scored four field goals to give the crowd something to cheer about.
For Malaysia, Hafziq Samsul (5th, 43rd) scored twice while Nabil Noor (6th), Tengku Ahmad (38th) found the net once each. Canada's lone goal came from a penalty corner by Mathew Sarmento in the 40th minute.
Both the teams will again lock horns on Sunday to avoid the wooden-spoon in the six-nation tournament.