Jakarta, Aug 25 (IANS) India women’s hockey team scored thrice in the final quarter to register an emphatic 4-1 victory over South Korea in their third Pool B match to enter the semi-finals of the 18th Asian Games here on Saturday.
World No. 9 India took the lead in the match through Navneet Kaur (16th minute) but South Korea’s Yurin Lee (21th) equalised for the defending champions. However, three quick-fire goals in as many minutes in the last quarter through Gurjit Kaur (54th, 55th) and Vandana Katariya (56th) saw India register a convincing victory.
Facing their first real test of the competition, the Indian team battled for possession during the first ten minutes of the first quarter.
The Koreans tried to create openings for themselves, but the Indian defence showed grit and kept it safe.
In the 12th minute, it was India who had the first significant chance as Neha Goyal made a darting run on the left flank inside the striking circle, and passed the ball across the Korean goal, but her pass could not be met by a teammate.
With just a minute to go, the Koreans looked to attack India on the counter as Monika lost possession easily in midfield, and Seulki Cheon found herself one-on-one with Indian defender Deep Grace Ekka but the latter’s well-timed tackle meant that the teams ended the first quarter goal-less.
The second quarter could not have started better for India as they earned a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute through striker Navneet Kaur, who made a good run inside the circle and was present in front of goal to guide the ball over the Korean goalkeeper Sooji Jang after midfielder Lilima Minz had played a fine pass across the Korean goal.
However, the World No. 9 team had a nervy few moments after taking the lead, and ended up conceding a penalty stroke in the 21st minute as Deep Grace Ekka was adjudged to have pushed a Korean forward.
It was Korea’s Yurim Lee who converted the stroke as she placed the ball towards Indian goalkeeper Savita’s left side amid doubts over the stroke being a drag, but the goal was awarded after the field umpire’s video referral.
The closing stages of the second quarter saw both the teams waste chances as the forwards failed to grab their opportunities and the teams went into the half-time break level at 1-1.
The third quarter saw both teams try to stitch passes together but key interceptions by players from the two teams and wayward passing saw neither create any real opportunity.
The Indian team stopped their opponents from getting into the striking circle as they showed a good defence.
However, Korea had a glorious chance in the last minute but the Indian defence cleared the ball away as the match hung in the balance with one quarter to go.
The last quarter started with the Indian team maintaining possession for the first few minutes, which saw Lalremsiami and Navjot Kaur create a couple of chances for their team, but their crosses were not met by a teammate.
In the 54th minute, India were awarded a penalty corner as the ball struck Yurim Lee’s foot inside the striking circle.
The resulting penalty corner was taken by India’s Gurjit Kaur and was struck towards the left side of the Korean Goalkeeper Sooji Jang to give India a crucial 2-1 lead.
In the next minute, drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur stepped up again as she struck her second penalty corner of the match, striking the ball towards the right of goalkeeper Jang to extend India’s lead to 3-1.
A brilliant counter-attacking move by the Indian team saw them move the ball quickly into the opposition’s striking circle, and it was Vandana Katariya who made her way past a couple of defenders and moved round the goalkeeper to get her shot away and make the score 4-1.
India will play their fourth and last Pool B match against Thailand on Monday.