India ended their FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup with a commanding 3-1 win over Japan, to finish joint ninth in the competition, along with China.
This was India’s second win in the tournament, after they beat Canada 3-2 in the shootout after being held 1-1 in regulation time, in their 9-16th classification match.
On Wednesday, the remaining two semifinalists were also confirmed, as Argentina beat England 1-0 and Australia beat Spain 2-0 to join the Netherlands and Germany in the last four.
India and Japan are two rivals who know each other’s game well, and they played just like that in a well-contested match. Japan started the more brightly of the two teams, and were rewarded with a goal in the 20th minute from Asai Yu. The build-up play to that point had been very neat and creative from the Japanese team, with lots of 3D skills and high energy.
India also had their opportunities in the opening 30 minutes, Nisha was proving a scourge to the Japanese defence and Navneet continued to show why she is such a respected forward.
With four minutes left before halftime, India really began to pile on the pressure with a well disciplined press. This led to a penalty corner but Gurjit Kaur sent her shot just wide. More great work from Monika Malik and Navneet earned the next penalty corner. Japan were defending with everything they had, with Miyu Suzuki and Shihori Oikawa foiling the India attack time and again.
The breakthrough came from Navneet. She was fed the ball by Nisha, after some good build-up work by Jyoti. Navneet received the ball, turned and shot with venom past Eika Nakamura in the Japanese goal.
That goal seemed to lift the tension in the India team and they began pass the ball more fluently.
A penalty corner gave Deep Grace Ekka the chance to take the lead: her shot flew over the sprawling Nakamura into the goal. Navneet added to that on the cusp of quarter time and it was clear that India had finally found their groove.
Earlier in the day, a slick three-pass move that finished with Victoria Granatto slipping the ball past Maddie Hinch was the sole goal in a fascinating encounter between Argentina and England. While Las Leonas dominated possession, England put up a stalwart defence and were it not for two moments of goalkeeping brilliance from Belen Succi could have taken the game to shoot-out. Argentina will now face Germany in the semifinals.
The second quarterfinal had a heap of expectation riding on it as the fans poured into the stadium to cheer on the host nation Spain. That hope was dented early as Australia scored in the third minute. Spain never stopped believing but a second Renee Taylor goal in the match meant the Red Sticks had a mountain to climb and it was not their day to achieve miracles.
Argentina will now play Germany, while Australia will face the reigning champions Netherlands in the semifinals on Saturday July 16.
July 13 Results
Canada 0, Korea 0 (Korea win shoot-out 3-0)
Player of the Match: Lee Yuri (KOR)
India 3, Japan 1,
Player of the Match: Neha Goyal (IND)
Argentina 1, England 2
Player of the Match: Eugenia Trinchinetti (ARG)
Australia 2, Spain 0
Player of the Match: Renee Taylor (AUS)