India entered the quarterfinals of the women’s hockey World Cup with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Italy at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London on Tuesday. Lalremsiami (9′), Neha Goyal (45′) and Vandana Katariya (55′) were the goal-scorers for India in a rather one-sided cross-over tie. India will now face Ireland in the quarterfinal on Thursday, hoping to book a semifinal berth for the first time since 1974. India started slowly but it did not take long for them to start dictating play. Navjot Kaur won the team’s first penalty corner in the ninth minute.
However, conversion continued to be a bane for the team as Gurjit Kaur’s flick was deflected out of play by the first rusher.
Italy were slow to take their positions and India took advantage by taking the consequent long corner quickly. The ball found an unmarked Lalremsiami at the far corner and the teenager from Mizoram calmly beat the goalkeeper at the near post with a cheeky finish. The early goal proved crucial as it seemed to completely deflate Italy’s confidence. India looked more comfortable on the ball and began to pass with much more purpose compared to previous games. The forwards and midfielders showed a lot more cohesion while the defence was quick to sniff out any danger posed by the Italian forwards. However, despite initiating quality moves, India were unable find the second goal.
It took the experience of skipper Rani Rampal for India to double their lead. With seconds to go for the third-quarter break, the captain kept the pressure on the Italian defence and managed to earn a penalty corner right at the hooter. The resulting drag-flick was taken by Reena Khokhar. The shot deflected off an Italian defender and was trapped under the goalkeeper. Neha latched on to the rebound from the melee and extended India’s advantage. If that goal was scrappy, the third goal scored 10 minutes later was straight from the training ground. India won back-to-back penalty corners in the 54th and 55th minutes.