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India win Asian Games bronze in women’s hockey, beat defending champions Japan | Hockey

Coming into the tournament as favourites, a wounded Indian women’s hockey team rose from the shock semifinal loss to edge past defending champions Japan 2-1 and claim the bronze medal at the Asian Games here on Saturday.

Members of India's team celebrate after winning the bronze in the Women's Classification 3rd-4th match against Japan(REUTERS)
Members of India’s team celebrate after winning the bronze in the Women’s Classification 3rd-4th match against Japan(REUTERS)

The Indians, ranked seventh in the world, were the favourites to win the gold here but one bad match cost them dearly as hosts China thrashed them 4-0 in the semifinal on Thursday.

The Indian women thus avenged their 0-1 defeat against Japan in the last edition of the Games in Jakarta in 2018.

But the Savita Punia-led side left behind the disappointment and displayed commanding hockey to clinch its seventh Asian Games medal and fourth bronze.

Deepika gave India the lead in the fifth minute from a penalty stroke before Japan equalised through Yuri Nagai from a penalty corner in the 30th minute.

Sushila Chanu, a rare goal scorer, handed India the winning goal in the 50th minute from a set piece that went wrong.

India started brightly and went on the offensive from the onset.

The Indians pressed hard and that resulted in their first goal in the fifth minute through a penalty stroke, which was perfectly converted by Deepika.

India kept on pressing hard and secured a penalty corner but failed to convert the opportunity. The Japanese too threatened the Indians but the Savita-led side was upto to the task.

It was midfield tussle between the two in the second quarter with both sides managing a few circle entries but failed to yield any result.

Japan drew level at the stroke of half time through Nagai who converted a penalty corner.

After the change of ends, there was hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides. Both India and Japan were engaged in midfield battle with occasional entries into each other’s cicrrle.

After the change of ends, India continued to press hard and created a few chances but failed to pounce on them.

With deadlock still intact, the Indians went on full press in the fourth and final quarter and their efforts bore fruit as they managed to earn a few penalty corners.

India secured a penalty corner in the fourth quarter but vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka’s flick was saved by Japanese goalkeeper Eika Nakamura.

Vaisnavi Vitthal Phalke then missed a sitter from the the rebound from the following penalty corner.

India continued to mount constant pressure on the Japanese defence and secured three penalty corners in succession, the last of which resulted in the winner.

A rare goal scorer, Sushila was at the right place at the right time to scoop the ball in above the goalkeeper’s head after receiving a feed from Deep.

India then earned a few more penalty corners but failed to utilise them.

Just three minute from the hooter, India secured another penalty corner but but Deepika’s flick was saved by the Japanese goalkeeper.

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