Sports

India beat champions Argentina 2-1 in shootout win


Gurjit Kaur scored a brace as the Indian women’s hockey team dished out a spirited performance to stun Olympic silver medallists Argentina, 2-1 in the shoot-out after a 3-3 stalemate in regulation time, in the first match of the double-leg FIH Pro League tie in Rotterdam on Saturday.

Gurjit’s (37th, 61st minutes) two penalty corner conversions and Lalremsiami’s (4th) field strike cancelled out Agustina Gorzelany’s (22, 37th, 45th) hat-trick to take the match into the shoot-out.

In the shoot-out, Neha Goyal and Sonika scored for India, while Victoria Granatto was the lone scorer for reigning Pro League champions Argentina as the Savita Punia-led side registered a famous win and avenged their 1-2 defeat against the same opponents in the Tokyo Olympic semifinals.

India started strongly in the match, dominating the early exchanges, putting pressure on the Argentina defence early on. A penalty corner in the third minute resulted in Monika’s flick being saved by the opposition goalkeeper Belen Succi. A minute later, India surged ahead through a brilliant field goal by Lalremsiami.

It was Deep Grace Ekka who created the chance with her defence splitting pass from outside the circle and Lalremsiami dodged her marker to get a brilliant touch which completely out-foxed the Argentine goalie.

Stunned by the goal, the Argentines responded with attacks of their own and secured two penalty corners in succession, but the Indian defence stood firm. Seconds before the end of first quarter, Sharmila Devi’s effort from close range from a Navneet Kaur pass was kept out by Succi.

Six minutes into the second quarter, Argentina earned two quick penalty corners and Agustina Gorzelany scored after her flick went was deflected in by Sushila Chanu. Argentina secured another penalty corner moments later, but Chanu made a goalline save to deny Valentina Costa.

Seconds from half-time, India too got a penalty corner but wasted the opportunity.

It was end-to-end hockey from both sides but Argentina surged ahead in the third quarter when Gorzelany scored from a penalty stroke in the 37th minute.

Argentina’s joy was short-lived as India drew level seconds later through a perfect penalty corner conversion by Gurjit Kaur.

The Argentines continued to press hard and won two more penalty corners in the third quarter but India defended stoutly.

Argentina secured their eighth penalty corner in the 45th minute and Gorzelany was bang on target to register her hat-trick and hand her side the lead again.

India, however, did not give up and Gurjit came to her side’s rescue once more with a brilliant penalty corner execution in the 51st minute to level the scores 3-3, and take the match to the shootout, with India earning the bonus point with a 2-1 win.

India and Argentina will play against each other once more in the second match of the tie in Rotterdam on Sunday.



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