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11:14 pm - Sunday November 19, 2017

Rani’s golden goal brings home Asia Cup after 13 years

Agencies, Kakamigahara,

Japan Indian women’s hockey team created history as they beat China in a tense shootout to lift the Women’s Asia Cup after 13 years, while qualifying for next year’s women’s World Cup as Continental Champions, in Japan’s Kakamigahara Kawasaki Stadium.

It was Indian skipper Rani Rampal who scored the winning goal for India, while Savita Punia made a great save in sudden death to ensure India the 5-4 score in the penalty shootout. Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India’s lone goal in the 25th minute.

It was in 2004 when Indian Women’s Team lifted the Asia Cup after beating Japan 1-0 in the final. It was advantage China right at the start as a stick check in the circle saw India concede a penalty corner in only the second minute of the game.

However, Indian goalkeeper Savita was at her usual best to pad it away while an alert Deep Grace cleared the ball. Soon after, Indian forwards launched a swift attack with Navneet Kaur and Vandana Kataria working in tandem to find space in the Chinese D but an attentive Wang Na averted the danger.

China, meanwhile, won their second penalty corner, but Savita was spot on yet again to pad away Meiyu Liang’s flick. (Details on Page 12) With the first quarter ending in a stalemate, India came back looking determined to find a breakthrough.

The Indian forwards kept the pressure on China as they made brave forays into the striking circle. Kaur came close to converting a field goal in the 17th minute, but her diving effort was blocked even as skipper Rani made a quick attempt to find a deflection.

It was not until the 25th minute when India found its first breakthrough when Kaur and Rani played give-and-take before penetrating the circle only to assist Navjot who took a clear shot on goal.

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