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Indian women beat Japan 2-1, assure semifinal berth in Asian Champions Trophy | Hockey


An unbeaten India narrowly beat Japan 2-1 to register their fourth straight win and enter the semi-finals of the women’s Asian Champions hockey tournament here on Tuesday.

India’s Vandana Katariya celebrates with teammates after becoming the first Indian hockey player to play 300 international matches (PTI)

After two goalless quarters, Navneet Kaur (31st minute) and Sangita Kumari (47th) scored for India, while Japan’s lone goal came from the stick of Kana Urata (37th).

It was a game between two undefeated sides in the competition and it lived up to the billing.

India had defeated Thailand 7-1 in the final before getting the better of Malaysia and China 5-0 and 2-1 respectively. The Japanese were also undefeated coming into the match, having registered victories over Malaysia 3-0, South Korea 4-0 and Thailand 4-0 respectively.

It was a battle between the Indian attack and the Japanese defense in the first quarter as the hosts relentlessly pressured the opposition’s fort but failed to produce any results.

The Japanese relied mainly on counter-attacks to settle the Indians but were unable to break through their defences.

Both teams failed to create any clear scoring opportunities from the field in the first quarter.

However, it was Japan who had the brightest chances in the form of a penalty corner in the 13th minute but Ishika Chaudhary was up to the task of keeping the ball out of the net as the first quarter ended goalless.

The Japanese pressed in the opening moments of the second quarter and created a couple of attacks but all went in vain. The situation was the same as in the first quarter as both teams failed to create any serious scoring opportunities.

In the last 4 minutes, the Indians came close to scoring at least three times but could not finish the scoring shots.

India got their first penalty corner early on but vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka’s threatening shot to the right of the Japanese goalkeeper was well saved.

It was Japan’s turn to earn a penalty corner after that but India’s defense was up to the task.

The deadlock was finally broken a minute after the change of ends through Navneet.

A deceptive pass from Salima Tete in the area of ​​the circle found Navneet, who turned and fired a powerful backhand shot into the Japanese net.

It took just six minutes for Japan to draw level from their third penalty corner.

Urata brought his side back into the game, converting the set piece perfectly with a high flick into the top right corner of the Indian goal.

In the 39th minute, India got another penalty corner, only to be denied by the Japanese goalkeeper.

It was an electrifying performance from both sides in the fourth and final quarter, with end-to-end hockey. But it was India, who were the dominant side on display.

Two minutes into the final quarter, India were awarded a penalty corner and Sangita’s low deflection pulled Deepika in to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.

​​​​​​India got another penalty corner in the 53rd minute but Japan goalkeeper Akio Tanaka saved the effort.

From then on, the Japanese pushed hard for the equalizer but the Indians defended bravely to keep their opponents at bay and continue their winning run.

India will face South Korea in their series finale on Thursday.

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