India’s women’s team clinched their first win of the Hockey World Cup on Tuesday, beating a largely defensive Italian side 3-0 at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Lalremsiami (9’), Neha Goyal (45’) and Vandana Katariya (55’) were on target for the Indians in a lop-sided contest against Italy, who’d lost their previous match 1-12 to Netherlands.
With the win, the Indian women set up a quarter-final clash on Thursday against Ireland (to whom they’d lost 0-1 in the group stage). If they manage to avenge that defeat, India – for the first time since the inaugural edition of the World Cup in 1974 – will enter the semi-finals.
India and Italy started slow, with several attempted long passes going out of the field. But the former made many breaches of the latter’s defence.
India won their first penalty corner in the ninth minute. But Gurjit Kaur’s flick was deflected by the onrushing Italian defender and the ball went for a long corner. Italy were slow to take their positions and the Indians capitalised: the ball was promptly passed to the unmarked Lalremsiami at the far corner of the goalpost. And, the 18-year-old from Mizoram swiftly flicked the ball to beat the Italian goal-keeper and gave her team the early lead.
This goal was perhaps the defining moment of the match as it raised India’s spirits and lowered Italy’s. Ever since, the Italians hardly made any circle entries until out of desperation in the last quarter.
The Indians, meanwhile, constantly put pressure on the Italian defence and came close to scoring on several occasions. They earned five more penalty corners after the first goal and converted twice out of rebounds to trounce Italy 3-0 and knock them out of the tournament.