India entered the summit clash of the FIH Series Finals with a 4-2 win over Chile in Hiroshima, Japan on Saturday.
India, the title favourites, faced a stiff challenge from Chile in the semifinals, but did just enough with goals from Gurjit Kaur (2), skipper Rani Rampal and Navneet Kaur to seal its spot in the Olympic qualifiers to be held later this year.
Surprisingly, it was Chile which drew the first blood with a fine field goal from Carolina Garcia in the 18th minute after an evenly played first-half.
India, however, was able to build more pressure in the Chile D to earn a penalty corner in the 22nd minute. Gurjit Kaur proved why she is India's best drag-flicker currently by smashing one in to equalise.
An interesting third quarter saw Chile dominating the possession, but India defended brilliantly and counter-attacked efficiently to increase the lead to 3-1 with two goals through Navneet Kaur and Gurjit Kaur. While Navneet Kaur caught the Chile defence off-guard with a cool chip to the goalpost, Gurjit Kaur once slammed one through penalty corner in the 37th minute.
Chile, meanwhile, kept the pressure by earning back-to-back penalty corners, but could convert only in the third attempt through Manuela Urroz two minutes before the end of third quarter to set up a tense final 15 mintues for India.
But skipper Rani Rampal rose to the occasion by sneaking in a field goal in the fourth quarter to seal a spot in the final for India. More importantly, it ensured India's Olympic hopes stayed alive with a spot in the final Olympic qualifiers.
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