Tokyo Olympics | Indian women tame mighty Australia, march into hockey semifinals

Indian women celebrate after winning their hockey quarterfinals match against Australia at the Tokyo Olympics on August 2, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Indian women’s hockey team punched above its weight to beat World No. 2 Australia 1-0 and storm into the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Indians continued their fairytale run and joined the men’s team in the last-four stage. On Wednesday, the women will face Argentina, which beat Germany 3-0.

The Aussies — table-toppers in Pool A — served India an early warning as Ambrosia Malone hit the post in the second minute.

But, thereafter, the Indian defence grew in confidence as Gurjit Kaur and Monika kept the opposition at bay. Savita Punia enjoyed a fantastic outing in goal, coming up with nine brilliant saves.

Near miss

Skipper Rani Rampal came close to putting India ahead in the ninth minute when she parried Vandana Katariya’s pass but was denied by the post.

The first penalty corner of the game came in the 20th minute when Nisha was penalised for a push on Ambrosia. The defence was up to the task as it blocked three attempts.

India went ahead two minutes later.

Gurjit Kaur, who had failed to convert her last nine penalty corner attempts, rose to the occasion when it mattered, and her fierce drag-flick went between a defender’s legs and took a touch of another’s stick before nestling into the bottom of the goal.

Salima Tete made a scintillating run shortly after and skipped past two defenders but failed to keep her attempt on target. The momentum had slowly shifted in India’s favour and Australia was struggling to get a hold of the ball.

But, in the 33rd minute when Australia did have possession, it let slip three penalty corner chances. And a shot on goal found Savita blocking the way.

Australia, the three-time Olympic champion, fought tooth and nail in the final quarter.

It won a penalty corner in the 51st minute that was blocked by Savita and Monika made a goal-line save in the next minute.

Rising tension

The tension in the camp increased as Australia won penalty corners in the 56th and 57th minutes, but Savita booted away the first and pulled off a sprawling save on the second.

The women have moved into the medal round for the first time since finishing fourth in 1980.

Coach Sjoerd Marjne had earlier said his side’s defence needed to turn up and they did so in style, keeping a clean sheet against the Aussies who had scored 11 goals in the group stages.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 12:30:38 PM |

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