Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Putting behind yesterday’s shock defeat, defending champion the Netherlands regrouped to beat spirited India 3-1 in the penalty shootout after teams were levelled 1-1 in the 2nd leg of the Women Hockey Pro League at Kalinga stadium, Bhubaneswar on Saturday
The Dutch side in the process managed to take the bonus point.
Rajwinder Kaur (34”) put India ahead but Yibbi Jansen (53’) equalised for the Dutch in the regulation time.
As per the FIH Pro League rules, if scores remain level at full-time, the match is considered a draw and both teams get a point each. A shootout is then played and the winner of the shootout bags an extra bonus point from the match
After this tie, India stays at second place on the league table with 18 points from eight matches while the Netherlands remained on top with 19 points from as many outings.
India opened the game on an attacking mode earned back-to-back penalty corners within the first 30 seconds. The second, resulted in the opening goal of the match.
Gurjit Kaur’s deflected drag-flick was turned in by Rajwinder Kaur in the 34th second as the hosts again got off to a dream start against the reigning Olympic and world champions.
The Dutch, rattled by this quick goal went on the offensive but the Indians not only defended well but kept making incisive counter moves keeping the rival defenders busy .
The young Netherlands side however, created some opportunities of their own and came close to equalising in the ninth minute. A measured cross from the right found De Nooijer unmarked at the far post, but the Dutch attacker fumbled in the circle and failed to deflect the ball home.
The second quarter saw the Netherlands dominate the game and creating more dangerous chances but Captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia made three superb saves to keep her team’s lead intact before the half-time hooter.
The Indian midfield regrouped after the break and launched flurry of attacks from both the flanks .Navjot Kaur missed a good chance to extend the lead .She had all the time and space to score but she failed to connect with the ball.
The latter half of the third quarter, both teams created a few goal scoring opportunities but the two goalkeepers made some fantastic saves to set up a cracker of a fourth period.
The teams played attacking game in the fourth period. The Dutch tried to crowd the Indian circle in search of the equaliser.
They almost got one in the 49th minute after Jansen’s penalty corner beat Savita but Monika was on the goal line to divert the shot away.
The visitors kept knocking at India’s doors, particularly through penalty corners, but the hosts crowded their defence to keep hold of their advantage.
However the Indian ploy to crowd the defence backfired in the 53rd minute as Yibbi Jansen finally converted a penalty corner sending her drag flick at the top right corner. Savita, who had been excellent throughout the match, was beaten by the sheer pace on the strike.
The hosts had a golden chance to regain their lead almost immediately but Gurjit’s penalty corner hit the post.
In the shoot-out Netherlands went first and scored through Jansen who calmly slotted a second shot in after Savita had saved the first one. Jyoti and Neha missed the first two shoot-out attempts, while Fortuin scored the 2nd attempt as well for the visitors , leaving hosts with a mountain to climb.
Savita tried her best, saving Morgenstern’s shoot-out attempt and Navneet followed it up with a calmly taken goal of her own. But Barentsen scored the 4th attempt for Netherlands and another great save by Remmerswaal from Rajwinder’s attempt sealed India’s fate as Netherlands took the extra point from the contest.
Marente Barentsen won the player of the match and said “It was a tough loss yesterday, but we had created chances and it was the same today. So happy that as a young team we could improve and get a better result today.”
Captain Savita opined “Shoot-outs are a bit of a coin toss, and Netherlands were very clinical in their attempts today. Overall, the draw in regular time felt about right, because while we started well Netherlands were really attacking in the end so the draw was a fair result.”
The match was India’s final home fixture in the Women’s FIH Pro League . Savita Punia and Co. will travel to Antwerp next to play Belgium on June 11 and 12.
India’s final four matches, two against Argentina and two against the USA will be held at Rotterdam.