Tokyo Olympics: India create history, beat Australia 1-0 to reach semifinals in women's hockey
- India, who qualified for the knockout stages after finishing fourth in Pool A, started on a positive note against Pool B toppers Australia and kept the pressure on them throughout all quarters.
India stunned Australia 1-0 to reach the semi-finals in women’s hockey at the Tokyo Olympics. This will be the Indian women's hockey team's first last four appearance at Olympic Games. The Indian women's team had finished fourth in the 1980 Moscow Olympics but the format in those Games was different, as there were no knockout matches.
India will face Argentina in the semi-finals, who defeated Germany 3-0 in the first quarterfinal earlier on Monday. A spot in the semifinals also means that India are guaranteed a medal match for the first-time at the Olympics.
India, who qualified for the knockout stages after finishing fourth in Pool A, started on a positive note against Pool B toppers Australia and kept the pressure on them throughout all four quarters.
India were clearly the dominant side with 59% ball possession in the first quarter but the big moment came in the second quarter when dragflicker Gurjit Kaur converted India’s first penalty corner in the 22nd minute to put her side ahead.
India had five shots on goal compared to 14 of the World No.2 side but India's defence was superb just like their midfield. They did not let Australia score despite conceding seven penalty corners in the match.
India goalkeeper Savita brought her A-game to the field and managed to save all 9 shots directed at her.
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Australia had the first shot at the goal but India goalkeeper Savita did just enough to deny Amrosia Malone, whose slap shot from inside the circle hit the post.
The Indians thereafter adopted an aggressive approach and caught the Australian defence off guard quite a few times. India's pace and determination seemed to have surprised the Australians as they panicked while defending and were lucky not to have conceded a goal in the first quarter.
In the ninth minute, skipper Rani Rampal's deflection from a Vandana Katariya shot hit the back post as Australia survived.
A minute later, Broke Peris' shot from top of the circle just went wide past a fully stretched Savita.
The Indians created another chance in the first quarter but an alert Australian goalkeeper Rachael Lynch came out of her line to deny Sharmila Devi from a one-on-one situation.
The Australians pressed hard in the second quarter and secured their first penalty corner in the 20th minute which was defended brilliantly by India.
Minutes later, India secured their first penalty corner and Gurjit, who had a disappointing outing so far in the tournament, rose to the occasion and converted the chance with a low flick to stun the Australians.
The Indians were bold and courageous while defending as minutes later, Deep Grace Ekka got a vital stick to keep out Emily Chalker's strong hit from close range.
Down by a goal, the Australians attacked with numbers after the change of ends and Mariah Williams came close to restoring parity but Savita came in between.
Australia secured three back-back-to-back penalty corners soon but the Indian defence, led by Savita and Deep Grace Ekka, stood like a rock in front of the goal.
Thereafter, the play was mostly inside the Indian circle as Australia pressed hard but the Indians managed to soak up the pressure with some brave defending, not afraid to put their bodies on line.
In the final eight minutes of the game, the pressure was relentless on the Indians as Australia secured four more penalty corners but failed to breach the willpower of the Indian defence.
(with PTI inputs)