The Indian Women’s Hockey Team registered an emphatic 3-0 victory over Italy in their cross-over match to progress to the Quarter-Finals of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 on Tuesday. The match was played at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Indian team produced a good all-round display and were helped by goals from Lalremsiami (9’), Neha Goyal (45’) and Vandana Katariya (55’).
The match started with Italy seeing possession for the first couple of minutes, but India slowly got into their rhythm and kept the ball for the next few minutes. Both the teams looked to play with a slow tempo during the first period but the Asian Champions created a glorious opportunity in the 9th minute as Navjot Kaur won the first Penalty Corner of the match. The resulting flick was taken by Gurjit Kaur and her fierce strike was deflected away by the first rusher. India took their long corner quickly, managing to exploit the space in the Italian striking circle, and young striker Lalremsiami benefitted from it as she produced a calm finish from the left side of the goal to give India the lead after 9 minutes. India looked fairly comfortable in the remaining few minutes and ended the first quarter with a one goal lead as Italy failed to stitch together passes.
The early stages of the second quarter saw India’s Captain Rani create an early chance in the 17th minute as she ran by the left baseline, passing the ball inside which was eventually cleared by Italian Goalkeeper Martina Chirico. The Italian Goalkeeper was called into action again two minutes later as Udita found herself in the striking circle, clear of all Italian defenders, but Chirico got to the ball first to clear away the danger. The World No. 10 Indian team seemed content to invite the Italians inside their half, and looked to attack them on the counter, hoping to catch their opponents off guard. On the other hand, Italy also had chances to go forward, but failed to deliver inside the striking circle, giving away free hits too often as India took their lead into the half-time break.
India looked to extend their lead in the third quarter and had a great chance in the 34th minute when Navneet Kaur found herself in possession with her back towards the goal. The young forward turned and deceived the Italian Goalkeeper but just missed the target as she placed the ball wide of the goal-post.
India won their second PC in the 35th minute as Rani’s pass hit an Italian foot, but the experienced Deepika flicked the ball wide of the Italian goal. India dominated possession for the next few minutes, and won themselves their third PC in the 42nd minute through clever play from Monika, but Rani’s flick was stopped by the first rusher. India continued to dominate the match, and won themselves a fourth PC at the stroke of the hooter. The resulting flick was struck by Reena Khokhar, the shot deflecting off an Italian defender and clumsily getting trapped under the Goalkeeper. The Indian attackers looked to put the ball into the back of net and it was Neha Goyal who got the final touch to extend India’s advantage.
Italy had a chance to make a comeback into the match in the 48th minute as they were awarded their first PC of the match, but Agata Wybieralska’s shot was well saved by Savita. On the other hand, India looked to secure the victory with a third goal but failed to get their shots away even though they made a host of circle entries. Italy also tried to create chances for themselves, but India’s resolute defence made sure that the World No. 17 team did not have a way back into the match.
India won back-to-back PCs in the 54th and 55th minutes which saw them score their third goal at the second instance as Gurjit Kaur’s fierce low flick towards the right side of goalkeeper was cleverly deflected the other way by Vandana Katariya to make the scores 3-0 in India’s favour. India turned on the heat in the closing stages of the match and Navjot Kaur had the chance to score the fourth goal in the 56th minute as she found herself clear in the circle, but her shot was saved by Chirico. India managed the final few minutes well and paved their way through to the Quarter-Finals with a 3-0 win over Italy.