Ireland halt India’s dream run in the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 here at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre with a 3-1 win in the shootout and make the Semi Final against Spain. For India, Reena Khokhar was the lone goal-scorer while Roisin Upton, Alison Meeke, Chloe Watkins remained calm to beat Savita at the goalpost and clinch a winner for their team after the two teams had ended the regulation time in 0-0 stalemate.
Earlier in the match, a charged-up India began the first quarter with an attacking intent, keeping up the tempo and played with speed. Though at first hooter, the two teams were in a 0-0 stalemate, India had a slight edge over their opponents with better ball possession and three circle entries as against Ireland’s two circle penetration but both teams displayed excellent defensive skills to keep each other from taking any shots on goal.
The initial minutes of the second quarter saw India use full-press to keep the pressure up on Irish attack ensuring they made no successful forays into the striking circle. India remained effective yet calm in their attack, rotated the ball patiently to find the right opportunity in the circle but a real chance on goal continued to elude them.
For the Irish though, Anna O’Flannagan remained the cynosure of their attack when she cleverly positioned herself to find a deflection when an Irish forward made a strong cross that sliced through their striking circle from the right. But India’s goalkeeper Savita made a diving effort to deny Anna a goal. With three minutes left in the second quarter, India continued to dominate with ball possession while the defenders ensured they mounted pressure in the top of the circle to keep Ireland from entering the striking circle. With a little over 30 seconds remaining for the Half-Time hooter, India’s striker Rani made an aggressive dribble to enter India’s circle but a good tackle on Ireland’s part ensured both teams went into the ten-minute break at a 0-0 deadlock.
Ireland came up with an improvised game plan after the Half-Time break which saw them make positive impact in their attack and also made crucial interceptions to disrupt India’s structure. But India continued to hold their nerve and ensured good defence that kept the goal board unchanged. Interestingly, either of the teams could make a PC and remained on par with each other with circle entries (both recorded six circle entries and one shot on goal) at the end of the third quarter.
With scores NIL, it was a tense final quarter with both teams upping the ante. India found a great opportunity to score when they won a crucial PC in the 49th minute. Though Lilima Minz’s injection lacked the pace, Rani picked up a powerful shot but only to send it straight to the Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran. India lost the video referral with a little over five minutes to go for the final hooter as Vandana asked for a deliberate infringement by Irish defender.
India’s chances were further dented when they were down to ten players with Udita getting a green card in the 57th minute.
With time racing away, Ireland took a final chance in their attack but the match when into a shootout.