Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Electric India outplay New Zealand 3-1; Japan hold Germany; USA, Chile win on frantic second day

The Indian women's hockey team came up with a mesmerising response as it outplayed New Zealand on a hectic and sensational second day

Ranchi, Jan 14 (IANS) Error-prone and ineffective on the opening day, the Indian women’s hockey team came up with a mesmerising response as it outplayed New Zealand on a hectic and sensational second day at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers which saw Japan holding World No.5 Germany to 1-1 draw at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Astro-Turf Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

Chile started Super Sunday with a 6-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic which kept alive their hopes of reaching the semifinals while the United States remained the only team with a perfect record as they defeated Italy 2-0 to move up to six points from two wins.

India, who had suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to the United States on Saturday, set a lightning pace and fanatically high tempo in the first quarter, scoring three goals that took the wind off the New Zealand sails. Sangita Kumari scored the opening goal for India in the 40th second, launching a swift attack after the pushback to take the lead even before the Black Sticks had settled into their positions.

Udita slapped home a superb goal off a penalty corner on her birthday and Beauty Dung Dung rounded off the score in the 14th minute capitalising on a superb attack that resulted in a goalline melee. Though Megan Hull had equalised in the sixth minute off a penalty corner, the two quick goals boosted India’s confidence as they defended superbly to keep the Black Sticks at bay in the remaining three periods.

The Japan vs Germany clash was the biggest upset of the day as the 2018 Asian Games winners absorbed the pressure exerted by the Germans in the first half and went volatile after Germany scored through Lisa Nolte (35th min), using the afterburner to completely dominate the Germans in the second half and scored the equaliser when Miyu Hasegawa converted a penalty corner. They maintained the high tempo and did not allow the Germans, who wasted 14 penalty corners in all, to play their trademark steady and resilient hockey.

The German shocker came after Chile had started the second day with a goal-fest, slamming half a dozen goals past a completely outclassed Czech Republic to maintain their chances of reaching the semis. Chile, like India, had lost their opening match (to Germany) and came up with a perfect response.

The United States rode on goals by Ashley Sessa and Ashley Hoffman to beat Italy 2-0 and inched closer to a place in the last four with a comfortable 2-0 win over Italy as they remained the only team in the eight-nation competition with a 100 percent record, winning both their matches to surge to six points in Pool B with New Zealand and India tied on three points from a win each.

In Pool A, Germany and Japan are now on four points from a win and a draw while Chile have three points. The Czech Republic are out of the race after two successive defeats.

Sunday’s results set an intriguing final day of preliminary league action after Monday’s rest day with Japan taking on Chile in what could be a direct knockout clash. Germany has an easier opponent in the Czech Republic and should secure the top spot with a big win.

In Pool B, things are still complicated with there being a possibility of a three-way tie on six points. That situation will arise if New Zealand beat the USA in their third match and India get the better of Italy. India have the easier task against Italy and a big win will boost their chances in case of three-way tie with a big goal difference.


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