Incheon, Oct 1: The Indian women’s hockey team stunned Japan 2-1 in a keenly-contested match to clinch their third bronze medal at the Asian Games after a hiatus of eight years, here today. The 13th-ranked Indian eves produced a spirited effort to avenge their 0-1 loss to 10th placed Japan in the bronze medal play-off fours years ago in Guangzhou, China.
Dragflick expert Jaspreet Kaur (23rd minute) and Vandana Kataria (42nd) were the scorers for India, while Japan’s only goal was struck by Akane Shibata in the 41st minute. After a barren but hard-fought first quarter, the Indian eves broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, converting the second of their back-to-back penalty corners. After Jaspreet was denied by a brilliant save from Japan custodian Yuka Yoshikawa from the first penalty corner, India secured another set piece in the next minute which was beautifully converted by the Punjab dragflicker with a high flick to give her side the lead.
India could have doubled their margin just three minutes after the change of ends, but Poonam Rani missed an open chance after being fed by Rani Rampal. The Japanese, however, capitalised on a defensive lapse from the Indians and drew level in the 41st minute when Shibata scored from a goal-mouth melee. But a minute later, Vanadana restored India’s lead with a field goal after she was set up by a brilliant run from Rani Rampal.
India survived some anxious moments in the fourth and final quarter as the Japanese went on the offencive in search of the equaliser. India survived a close shave in the 54th minute, courtesy a good save from custodian Savita but in the process, conceded a penalty corner to Japan. But Japan failed to capitalise on the opportunity as Yuri Nagai’s slap shot went wide. Three minutes from the final hooter, Vandana wasted a golden chance to seal the match for India as she pushed her shot wide with a open goal in front.
See Asian Games 2014 Medal Table: Complete Medal Tally of 17th Incheon Asian Games