Indian women conquer Asia

Indian women conquer Asia

 Goalkeeper Savita produced a stunning save in a tense shoot-out as the Indian women's side won the Asia Cup to secure qualification in next year's World Cup following a nerve-wracking win over China in the final on Sunday.

The team broke a 13-year-old jinx when skipper Rani scored the final goal and Savita foiled an attempt from the rivals to ensure a 5-4 win. India had failed to qualify for the last World Cup and finished ninth in the 2010 edition.

Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each in the shoot-out.

Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India's lone goal in the 25th minute while China found a late equaliser through Tiantian Luo, who converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute.

It was in 2004 when the Indian women's team last clinched the Asia Cup title by beating Japan 1-0.

It was advantage China right at the start as a stick check in the circle saw India concede a penalty corner in the second minute of the game. However, Savita was at her best and padded it away while an alert Deep Grace cleared the ball. Soon after, Indian forwards launched a swift attack with Navneet Kaur and Vandana working in tandem to find space in the Chinese striking circle but an attentive Wang Na averted danger.

With the first quarter ending in a stalemate, India came back looking determined to find a breakthrough. The Indian forwards kept the pressure on China as they made brave forays into the striking circle.

Navjot came close to converting a field goal in the 17th minute but her diving effort was blocked, even as skipper Rani made a quick attempt to find a deflection. It was not until the 25th minute when India found the breakthrough as Navneet and Rani played a give-and-take before penetrating the circle, only to assist Navjot for the opener.

Though China launched a counterattack soon after, Indian defenders were up to the task.

Later, though India stayed persistent with an aggressive attack they couldn't add to the goal tally. Neha Goyal and Lilima Minz showcased good dribbling skills to steer past Chinese defenders but could hardly test the Chinese goalkeeper.

The Chinese, meanwhile, attacked in phases and one such foray saw them win a short corner. This time though, they made it count with Tiantian Luo keeping her hit low as she improvised from the injection to find the right corner for the equaliser.

That's how it stayed till the final hooter to push the game into a shoot-out.



 

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