Hockey: Indian women valiant in defeat, go down 1-2 to Argentina in Olympics semi-final
New Delhi, August 4, 2021
Luck deserted the Indian women when they needed it most as, despite putting up a spirited challenge, they went down 1-2 to Argentina in the semi-final of the Tokyo Olympics at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.
The Rani Rampaul-led side played their hearts out but Argentina was a notch better than them, especially in the 3rd and 4th quarters. And though the Indian girls failed to make it to the finals, they came out with heads held high.
Gurjit Kaur put India into the lead in the 2nd minute while Argentina captain María Noel Barrionuevo scored equalizer in the 18th minute and the winner in the 36th minute. All goals came off penalty corners.
India will play Great Britain for the bronze medal on Friday.
The Indians made a blistering start, raiding the rival defence in the second minute which earned them earned them a penalty corner and Gurjit Kaur (2') made no mistake in converting with her drag flick to make it 1-0 leaving the Latin Americans rattled.
Argentina's retaliation came thick and fast as they penetrated into the Indian defence many a times and earned a penalty corner. However, the powerful drag flick was brilliantly deflected away by the defenders.
The two sides played toe-to-toe against each other in a fast-paced game for the rest of the quarter.
Argentina started aggressively in the second quarter and forced a penalty corner which however was muffed.
The World no 2 team kept the pressure on and that fetched them another penalty corner. This time captain María Noel Barrionuevo was right on the target for the equalizer (1-1).
Buoyed by this equalizer, the Argentinians took control of the proceedings for the next five minutes until the Indian retaliation that came in the 11th minute, earning them two penalty corners which, however, the girls in blue couldn't convert.
In the third quarter, Argentina made a brilliant run on the left flank in the third minute but failed to breach the defence.
India countered as Sharmila Devi made a great run on the left flank. However, the ball was intercepted by the defenders near the circle.
Argentina continued to put pressure and forced another penalty corner in the 5th minute. Barrionuevo converted another drag-flick to put her team 2-1 ahead, a goal which turned out to be the match winner.
The Indians tried to counter and made a few circle penetrations. However, the Indians couldn't find a way to breach the defence.
The Indians opened the last quarter aggressively and put pressure on the rival defence in the 5th minute as Navneet Kaur and Monika in tandem created an opening. The former took a shot, but couldn't find the back of the net. Soon after, they earned another penalty corner and Gurjit carried out the drag-flick, but her effort was saved brilliantly by the goalkeeper.
The Indians kept pressing hard and putting pressure on the Argentinians for the rest of the quarter. They created a chance to score in the final minute of the match, however, their shot was saved by the goalkeeper.
The winners played out the final seconds of the match calmly and sealed a place in the final.