Vandana Katariya struck a brace as defending champions India stunned higher-ranked China 3-1 to continue their winning march at the fifth Asian Champions Trophy women’s hockey tournament in Donghae City on Wednesday.
Experienced forward Vandana sounded in the 4th and 11th minutes to hand her side a formidable lead early on before Gurjit Kaur converted a penalty corner in the 51st minute to seal the victory.
China’s lone goal came from the stick of Wen Dan in the 15th minute at the Sunrise Stadium.
By virtue of this win, India are sitting pretty atop the standings with two victories from as many games.
India had earlier defeated Japan 4-1 in their tournament opener.
India will next play Malaysia in their next round-robin match tomorrow. The Malaysians got the better of Japan 3-2 in another encounter today.
The tournament also marks the comeback of Sjoerd Marijne as the chief coach of the women’s side after being at the helm of the men’s team for little over seven months
The 10th ranked Indians were on the attack right from the start.
It was impeccable team work between Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur and Vandana that gave India the early lead.
India’s second goal came off Udita’s clever assist to Vandana, who smashed it past the Chinese goalkeeper.
Surprised by India early on, world no. 8 China pulled one back in the dying stages of the first quarter through Dan’s well-struck field goal.
Credit should also go to Indian custodian Savita, who came up with brilliant saves to deny the Chinese from four back-to-back penalty corners.
In the second quarter, India managed to carry on the momentum and showed excellent defensive skills to keep China at bay.
Savita once again came to India’s rescue when she denied the Chinese from their fifth penalty corner in the third quarter.
India came out with attacking intent in the fourth and final quarter and it paid dividend when Gurjit scored from a set piece with a low, grounded flick to make the scoreline 3-1.
Trailing by two goals, the Chinese went all out attacking in the remaining minutes of the game and in the process also earned another penalty corner but goals eluded them as the Indian defence stood tall.
“It was important to hold our defence against a dangerous Chinese team who have the ability to comeback into the game at any point,” said Vandana, who was awarded player-of-the-match for her double-goal effort.
“Our aim today was to start well and get early lead to put pressure on them and it worked. It was a complete team effort.”