Harpal Singh Bedi
Bhubaneswar: Playing fast and attacking game India edged past Spain 2-1 in the FIH Women Pro League at Kalinga Stadium here ,
Spain took the lead as the match opened through Marta Segu who took advantage of tentative defence to put the ball past goalkeeper Savita (1-0).
India responded instantly, with Navneet Kaur making a great run before slipping the ball for Jyoti to slot home her first goal for the senior team (1-!)
Spain continued to move the ball quickly and create chances but failed to capitalise on them in the first half, although Lucia Jimenez did hit the goal post with a rasping shot
Though the first half ended at 1-1 but the 30 minutes belonged to Spain in terms of possession and circle penetrations. The Red Sticks ended the half with 69 per cent possession and 19 incursions into the India circle . The hosts managed only five meaningful attacks in response.
In the second half, the momentum switched as India changed tactics and began to pressure the Spanish midfield and defence with a sustained high press.
The Player of the Match Sharmila Devi, alongside the skills of Navneet and Nikki Pradhan, began to test the Spanish side’s ability to hold the ball.
At the other end of the field, when Spain did attack they found Savita in great form as she countered the Red Sticks’ shots on goals with her own athleticism and ability to read the game.
It looked as if the game was going to shoot-out as neither side gave an inch but then, with nine minutes to go, Neha pounced on a loose ball and was able to guide it home to give her team its third win in as many matches.
After the match, Shamila Devi said: ‘We played every well and I am very excited because we are playing at my home ground.’
Spain’s captain Maria Lopez said: ‘We played a really good game, especially in the first half. We have to keep improving our performance but tomorrow it will be better. India took advantage of their opportunities and that was difference.’