Navneet shines as India beat Japan 3-1 to finish at 9th in Women’s Hockey World Cup

Terassa (Spain): Navneet Kaur scored a brace as the Indian women’s hockey team beat Japan 3-1 to finish a disappointing ninth in the FIH World Cup here on Wednesday. Navneet (30th, 45th minutes) scored two field goals, while Deep Grace Ekka (38th) sounded the board once from a set piece in the classification match. Japan’s lone goal came from the sticks of Yu Asai in the 20th minute.

It was close contest in the first five minutes of the opening quarter, but both the teams failed to score goals. Soon India got a massive chance to take the lead but Vandana Katariya’s effort from close range was saved by Japan goalkeeper Eika Nakamura. Both teams fought hard for the rest of the first quarter but to no avail.

India made a good start in the second quarter and got a couple of chances within a span of two minutes but goals eluded the Savita-led side. Japan took the lead in the 20th minute through Yu Asai who converted a penalty corner.

India soon earned their first penalty corner but wasted the opportunity. They lifted their game in the final minutes of the second quarter with relentless attacks but Japan defended stoutly.

India drew parity at the stroke of the half time when Navneet found the board from a field effort. India started on the front foot after the change of ends and earned their sixth penalty corner of the match but, as has been the case the entire tournament, they wasted the chance once again.

Lalremsiami was threatening from the left flank but the Japanese defenders were upto the task.

However, India won another penalty corner and this time Ekka scored to hand her side the lead eight minutes into the second half.

The Indians mounted attack after attack on the Japanese goal and on one occasion Vandana came tantalizingly close but her effort was saved by Japanese goalkeeper Nakamura. The play was mostly surrounded inside the Japanese half after the change of ends as India attacked in numbers relentlessly.

India came close to taking a two-goal lead in the third quarter but Sharmila Devi’s goal was disallowed as the ball hit her body.

The third quarter completely belonged to India as they raised their game leaps and bounds to trouble the Japanese defence which resulted in Navneet’s second goal towards the end.

India continued in the same vein in the fourth and final quarter with Vandana being denied again by the Japanese goalie.

Japan tried hard in the final minutes but failed to breach the resolute Indian defence.

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