South Korea beat India 3-2 in Asia Cup women’s hockey semis
India women will face China in the bronze playoff of the tournament being played in Muscat, Oman
India’s dream of reaching the final of the Asia Cup women’s hockey tournament was dashed by South Korea, losing the semi-final 2-3 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on Wednesday.
Having qualified for the 2022 World Cup—to be held in Spain and Netherlands in July—by reaching the semis, the holders were aiming to reach their second successive final. They will now take on China--they lost 1-2 to Japan in the other semis—in the bronze playoff on Friday.
Neha (28th) and Lalremsiami (54th) scored for India while Cheon Eun-bi (31st), Seung Ju Lee (45th) and Hyejin Cho (47th) scored for the three-time champions.
India, captained by goalkeeper Savita Punia, started on the front foot, penetrating the Korean circle to build pressure on their defence. A challenge on Vandana Katariya in the third minute earned the holders an early penalty corner but the Korean defence was up to the task.
Korea struggled to get deep into India’s half as the midfield did excellent work to keep them at bay. In the 12th minute, a long pass inside the circle from Navjot Kaur landed right at Monika’s stick. She passed it to Mariana Kujur, whose cross was nicked into the goal by Lalremsiami, but the attempt was ruled out.
India continued their attack in the second quarter, getting inside the circle in the 16th minute. Korean goalkeeper Lee Jin-min stepped up to clear, but India’s penetrating runs continued to put Korea on the back foot.
In the 20th minute, Savita faced her first real test as Korea earned back-to-back penalty corners, but the goalkeeper defied both the attempts.
Then, with two minutes left in the second quarter, India earned back-to-back penalty corners. Neha received the ball after a deflection and converted, giving India the lead going into half-time.
Korea bounced back early in the third quarter, also from a penalty corner. Despite Savita’s solid initial save, Korea captain Cheon managed to convert the rebound to equalise. India worked hard to regain the lead but the Korean defence stood firm.
A fine move from the right flank led to India forcing a penalty corner in the 42nd minute. But the drag-flick from Gurjit Kaur, playing her 100th international, struck the post.
In the final minute of Q3, Lee Seung-ju rushed into India’s striking circle from the left and hit into the bottom right of the goal, giving Korea the lead. Korea started with confidence in the fourth quarter and Cho Hye-jin scored to make it 3-1.
Lalremsiami got a goal back but Korea kept possession in the final minutes to prevent India from scoring the equaliser.