Antwerp (Belgium), July 2:
India eves rode on valiant saves from goalkeeper Savita Punia to beat Italy 5-4 in the penalty shootout after the game ended at 1-1 in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final here on Thursday.
In the shoot-out, Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur, Anuradha Thokchom, Rani Rampal and Deepika scored for India while for Italy, Valentina Braconi, Marcela Casale, Guiliana Ruggieri and Chiara Tiddi found the target but Dalila Mirabella was denied by the Indian goalkeeper.
Contesting for the fifth/8th position, the match was full of action from the very first quarter as both sides tried to breach each other’s defences.
Italy was the first to score after Elisabetta Pacella seized a long ball inside the circle and hit a rebound shot in the 9th minute that went in. The goal was very much against the run of play.
In the second quarter of the game, India took control of the possession and for the major part of the game made several forays into Italy’s half whose defence held firm.
The first half ended with India trailing 0-1.
In the third quarter, the game became more intense as India struggled for the equaliser. It was in the 33rd minute of the game when Rani finally found the net, making the most of a mistake from central Italian defender Tiddi, as her shot hit the goal post from the right flank and crept in levelling the scores at 1-1.
India got a chance to surge ahead when Lilima Minz gave a quick pass to Navjot Kaur who tried to pierce the opponent’s defence but the Italian goalkeeper did well to block the shot. By the end of the third quarter, the scores were tied 1-1.
In the last quarter of the game, while both the teams tried creating chances into each other’s penalty area, the Indian eves switched to a more offensive mode but failed to score, leading to a shoot-out, where India prevailed.
The win now allows India to play for the fifth position on Saturday. They will play the winner of the Belgium vs Japan match scheduled to be played later on Thursday. (IANS)