London, Aug 3 (IANS) Reigning Asian champions India lost to lower-ranked Ireland 1-3 (0-0) via penalty shootout here on Thursday as the European side extended its dream run into the semi-finals of the Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup.
For India, Reena Khokhar was the lone goal-scorer, while Roisin Upton, Alison Meeke, Chloe Watkins remained calm to beat Savita during the shootout after 60 minutes of regulation play yielded no goals.
World No.16 Ireland had defeated No.10 India in the pool stage and both teams on Thursday approached the match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre with emphasis on defence.
After a lull first period, both teams intensified their attacks in the second quarter, with India using full-press to keep the pressure up. 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 off a 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 a little over 30 seconds remaining for the half-time, India’s striker Rani Rampal made an aggressive dribble to enter the 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 defensive structure to not concede.
The fourth and final quarter was tense with both teams upping the ante. India found a great opportunity to score when they won a crucial penalty corner 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 during which Rani, Monika and Navjot Kaur flopped in India’s first three attempts.
Nicola Daly and Anna wasted Ireland’s first two attempts but Roisin, Alison and Chloe converted the next three to pocket the win.
Following the win, Ireland will meet Spain in the semi-finals on Saturday.
In the other semi-final, The Netherlands, who defeated hosts and 2016 Olympic champions England 2-0 on Thursday, will meet Australia.