New Delhi: India required just a draw to stay alive in the Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018 after a draw and a defeat in their earlier Pool-B fixture and the resilient women in blue inflicted just the same against the USA on Sunday at the Lee Valley Tennis and hockey centre in London. Skipper Rani Rampal’s stunning second-half goal nullify Paolinho’s early effort to qualify for the playoffs and thus stay alive in the contest.
Eight minutes into the game, Margaux Paolino put the USA in the lead after she tapped in the ball which had deflected off the foot of the Indian keeper. It was an easy penetration into the Indian circle for the Americans as Melissa Gonzalez unleashed a terror which was blocked by Savita. However, Paolinho, who stood just in front of the keeper pushed it through her legs and into the net to hand the USA a 1-0 lead.
India were hurt early on into the game when the skipper limped off the field with an injury scare. It seemed like she twisted her ankle, but she came back to action in the second quarter itself. The Indians were defensively strong, but the game was in the hands of the Americans who dominated with possession, had more chances at goal with increased penetration and penalty corners.
Just a minute after returning from the halftime, India bagged a penalty corner. Rani received the injection from Manjeet Kaur and placed it at the top-left corner well out of the reach of goalkeeper Briggs.
The equaliser gave them a confidence and India were a different side in the third and final quarter and left no stones unturned in keeping American attacks at bay. They even had few chances at the goal – Lilima’s shot at glory in the dying minutes in front of the face of the keeper, before Briggs’ stunner of a save off Rani’s penalty-corner stroke.
India survived the test with the 1-1 scoreline and they now are placed third in Pool B with two points from three matches. The USA take the bottom place as they crash out of the competition. So, India head to the crossover matches where they would possibly face Italy (if the points table stay the same) in a bid to book a berth in the quarters.
Ireland take on England in the final match on Sunday and if they manage to beat the hosts by a goal to nil, there will be a shootout between India and England to decide on the second place.
“Both teams fought really hard,” the skipper said after the game. “But credit goes to our team for holding off USA in the last quarter. Yes we could have scored two or three more goals.”