~ Indian Women's Hockey Forward Navneet Kaur (57') scored the only goal of the match ~
Tokyo, 30 July 2021: The Indians Women's Hockey Team registered their first victory at the Tokyo Olympics after defeating Ireland 1-0 at the Oi Hockey Stadium here on Friday. The Indian team created a flurry of chances throughout the match before Navneet Kaur (57') converted an opportunity in the last few minutes of the match to keep India's Quarter-Finals hopes alive.
Ireland created a goal-scoring opportunity early on in the first quarter, however, the Indian defence stood tall and ensured that the ball is away from the goal. Soon after, the Indians made a circle penetration, however, Navneet Kaur couldn't find the back of the net after getting close to the goal. The Indians continued to put pressure on the Irish goal and earned a Penalty Corner in the 9th minute, however, Gurjt Kaur couldn't find the back of the net. Soon after, Navneet Kaur went through two Irish players and took a shot at the goal, but the Irish defence ensured that the ball is kept away from the goal. India earned a number of Penalty Corners in the last five minutes of the first quarter, however, couldn't convert any of them. The Irish made a circle penetration late in the first quarter, but the Indian defence stood tall once again and drove the ball away from the goal.
The Irish earned a Penalty Corner early in the second quarter, but couldn't convert their goal-scoring opportunity. Soon after, India made a circle penetration, but couldn't find a breakthrough. In the 7th minute of the second quarter, Lalremsiami had a great chance to score after receiving a pass in the circle, but the Irish Goalkeeper made a sliding save. A few moments later, Ireland drove the ball from the right, but there was no one there who could convert the opportunity into a goal. India took a shot in the final minutes of the first half, but the Irish Goalkeeper ensured that the Indians are kept at bay. In the 14th minute of the second quarter, India earned five back-to-back Penalty Corners, however, couldn't find a way to convert any of them into a goal.
India continued to play aggressively in the third quarter and earned a Penalty Corner right away. India Captain Rani took a shot, but the Irish defence stood tall once again and kept the ball away from the goal. In the 5th minute of the third quarter, Lalremsiami made an excellent pass to Navneet in the circle, but the latter couldn't convert the pass into a goal. Moments later, Sharmila Devi made a brilliant run on the left flank and took a reverse flick shot, but it was saved by the Irish Goalkeeper. India earned a Penalty Corner in the 10th minute of the third quarter, but couldn't convert their opportunity once again. Ireland had a chance to score late in the third quarter, but the Indians kept the Irish at bay.
India continued to put pressure on the Irish goal, but couldn't find a way to break the deadlock. Sharmila made an excellent run on the right flank and created an opportunity but couldn't convert it into a goal. In the next minute, Ireland made a circle penetration, but their shot was brilliantly defended by the Indian defence. Thereafter, the Indians counterattacked immediately and created two chances, however, the Irish defence managed to keep the ball away from the goal. The Indians drove the ball through the middle in the 9th minute of the final quarter, however, the Irish Goalkeeper booted the ball away. Soon after the Irish made a circle penetration and took a shot, but Savita ensured that the deadlock was not broken. India continued to put pressure on the Irish goal, however, couldn't find a way to convert any of their goal-scoring opportunities. However, with just a little over three minutes left on the clock, Rani, from the right, delivered a brilliant pass to Navneet, who tapped the ball into the goal and helped India go 1-0 up in the match. India continued to put pressure on their opponents in the last few minutes and ensured that they walked away from the pitch as the winners of the match.
Post-match comments from Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne:
"The only thing we can blame ourselves for is that we didn't score enough. It's not easy to score Penalty Corners against Ireland, but our performance was not good on a few occasions, but we kept going. Getting 14 PCs in the match says a lot and I like to talk about the positive that we got those PCs. And the dynamic in our game today was really good and we outplayed Ireland, but you won't see it in the numbers. We kept going in the match, we didn't stop. Three minutes before time, we kept pushing and this match has also shown the quality the team has gained and I am very happy with that. And now it's all about recovery and getting ready for the next match as we have a game against South Africa in less than 24 hours."
In their fifth and final Pool A match on Saturday 31 July 2021 at 0845hrs IST, India will take on South Africa.
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