Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Indian women outclass USA, men beat Russia 4-2

Indian women's hockey team beat USA 5-1 while the men's team struggled in its 4-2 win in the first-leg against minnows Russia in the Olympic Qualifiers.

India put ten past Russia when the teams met previously in the FIH Series Finals.   -  Hockey Indian Twitter

Hello and welcome to our blog of Friday's  Hockey Olympic Qualifiers first-leg between India and Russia at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

 

FULL-TIME: INDIA 4-2 RUSSIA

India, which started the match brightly with a goal in the 5th minute, looked lost in the defence and lacked sting in the attack. Mandeep Singh saved the team blushed against Russia, which the worst-ranked team in the Olympic Qualifiers at 19. Much credit goes to its lively forward line which, despite lacking quality finishing, put the Indian defence under pressure for the majority of the game. However, Russian goalkeeper Marat Gafarov stood out with his stunning saves in the final quarter which kept out two goals.

Check out our LIVE coverage of the second leg matches

Indian women will return to Kalinga Stadium at 6 pm for the second-leg on Saturday after the 5-1 win today while the men's team will take a 4-2 lead into the second-leg against Russia beginning at 8 pm on Saturday.

Q4

60' PC for India and save! What a stunning save from Gafarov! Rupinder Pal Singh goes for the top right corner and Gafarov stretches fully to his right and pulls off a blinder. He has already made three top saves which could prove to be defining moments of this tie.

60' GOAL RUSSIA! Semen Matkovsky reduces the arrears for Russia and the two-goal cushion India has now might not be much going in to the second-leg. Or is there a twist in this game?

59' Gafarov makes a double save to deny Surender Kumar and Ramandeep.

57' India wins a PC! But Rupinder is unable to get the lift off his dragflick which the Russians manage to clear. The visitor breaks off at full speed but is unable to pull the trigger at the right time.

54' Back-to-back PCs for Russia! The first dragflick comes off the high-end of Surender Kumar's stick, while drag-flicker Alexey Sobolevskiy fires it wide off the post.

53' GOAL MANDEEP! In one swift motion, Sunil, Manpreet and Mandeep exchanges passes as the striker finishes pas the goalkeeper to make it 4-1. This was the fluidity India has been missing through out this game.

51' Marat Khairullin gets on the end of a one-handed pass from the left and unleashes a powerful reverse hit at the far post. However, Krishan Pathak is up to the task and pulls off a good save.

48' GOAL INDIA! The goal India has been looking for! Nilakanta Sharma does brilliantly to get to the baseline and put it through to Sunil at the other end of the goal. The veteran forwards makes no mistakes as he taps in to stretch India's lead.

47' Mandeep wins a PC for India and double save! Rupinder Pal's dragflick is blocked by the Russian goalkeeper. The loose ball falls for SV Sunil who shoots straight at the goalkeeper from close range.

46' The Kalinga Stadium has gone into a lull as the Indians look to increase their lead, but have been caught napping multiple times in the defence.

Q3

45' Manpreet hits a ball into the circle with Sunil lurking at the near post. However the forward is unable to trap the ball as it rolls out of the play for a Russia free-out.

43' Ramandeep and Akashdeep combine but let the ball roll out of play on the right.

41' Another mistake in the build-up prevents India another shot at the goal. The host needs more energy going forward if it has to turn this tie around.

37' Penalty Corner to India or not? Akashdeep wins a penalty corner but Russia asks for a referral and replays show that the forward's scoop inside the circle is seen as dangerous play by the TV umpire who awards Russia a free-out.

35' Apart from the opening few minutes, India has lacked the edge in terms of keeping the possession and building attacks. Vivek Prasad goes for a shot from the outside the circle which does not trouble the Russian goalkeeper.

32' Chance! Russia keeps up the intensity and gets two shots on the goal in the third quarter. Indian defence needs to be more organised.

31' Second-half begins!

HALF-TIME: INDIA 2-1 RUSSIA

India has come into the tie expecting an easy encounter, but Russia has given the world no 5 a quick reality check with an stunning equaliser from Andrey Kuraev in the 17th minute. However, Mandeep Singh put the host back in the lead with a back-handed finish in the 24th minute. So far, the visitor has 6 circle penetrations to India's 8 and one shot less on the target compared to India's 7 shots. Graham Reid will expect a better performance in the second half.

Q2

30' PC to India! Sunil wins India a penalty corner but Russia manages to clear the danger. Varun gets hold of the spill over but Loginov does well to thwart the danger.

28' India has gone back to a full-court press in order to maintain its defensive shape, but could be in the danger of losing control in the centre.

24' GOAL! Mandeep puts India back in the lead!  Vivek Sagar Prasad threads a through ball from the outside the 25 metres line and Mandeep applies the finishing to put the host back in the front.

23' Lucky escape for Mandeep! He clashes with Loginov just outside the Russian circle and elbows the defender. However, the umpire says free-hit for Russia.

20' Chance! Russia is taking all the initiative and reaping the rewards. The Indian defence seems to have dozed as the Russians come back again, this time missing the goal just by few inches.

17' RUSSIA EQUALISES! Rupinder Pal Singh fails to clear a scoop over the midline and Andrey Kuraev latches on to the ball and smashes it into the bottom right corner to pull his team level.

16' Krishan Bahadur Pathak replaces Sreejesh in the goal for India.

Q1

15' Akashdeep tries to put Hardik through to the goal who lays it off to Gurjinder. The midfielder takes a shot but Russian goalie Marat Gafarov makes a good save.

13' India has not expected this level of intensity from the Russians as the home side looks to be on backfoot.

9' PC for Russia!  The first corner of the match goes the visitor's way, but it is unable to conjure anything from it as Iaroslav Loginov poor trapping foils the plan.

8' SAVE! This match is unfolding at a breakneck pace. Before India could regroup from its wasted chance, Russia is quickly on a counter and draws a save from Russia. The goalkeeper breathes a sigh of relief.

7' Lalita Upadhyay and Ramandeep combine inside the circle as the latter drags his shot wide.

5' HARMANPREET SCORES! Manpreet's quick decision-making works in India's favour as he goes for a referral. The TV umpire confirms that there has been a stick obstruction from Russia and awards India a penalty stroke. Harmanpreet steps up and coolly converts from the spot.

5' India is back in possession as Manpreet bulldozes into the circle and pulls the trigger which is straight at the goalkeeper. The Indian skipper pounces on the rebound and umpire says its Russia's free-hit.

4' Russia gets the first shot on the goal. Pavel Gobulev gets a save out of Sreejesh immediately.

1' Push-back! Here we go! Russia starts the match aggressively as it steals the possession near the half-line.

* Lineups

 

We are back! Russian and Indian men's walk out for the first-leg of the men's Olympic Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium.

FIH Women's Olympic Qualifiers | FULL-TIME: INDIA 5-1 USA |

Indian women have one foot in the 2020 Olympics with an emphatic 5-1 victory in the first-leg of the Olympic Qualifiers. But its only job half done as Rani Rampal and Co have to outscore USA on aggregate by the end of the second-leg tomorrow.

60' Matson wins the ball on the left and charges into the D and lays one for Lauren Moyer smashes it into the side-netting.

58' PC for USA!  Savita makes a good save and the Indians are off again. Navneet crosses from the left with Sharmila lurking at the far post. However, she is unable to bring the ball down and USA has a free-hit.

56' Another chance goes begging for the US. Matson finds herself in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper but misses the ball on reverse hit.

54' PENALTY STROKE FOR USA! Erin Matson steps up to the spot and pulls one back for the visitor to cut down India's lead to 5-1.

51' PENALTY STROKE TO INDIA! AND GURJIT SCORES! This is battering from India which has been ruthless since the the second quarter of the match.

50' PC for USA!  But wait, it could be reversed as India goes for a referral. Replays show that the ball has hit Reena Khokhar's boot and the TV umpire deems it as a penalty corner. Deep Grace Ekka does brilliantly to block the dragflick from Sharkey.

46' GOAL INDIA! Every attack India is hurting USA which is falling apart by every passing minute. Salima Tete bursts into the out circle and puts Navneet Kaur through, who smashes home from the edge of the circle. India in total control of this match and the tie now.

Q3

45' India has looked a completely different team in the third quarter. They have won four penalty corners in this quarter and found the net twice. USA, which has been the better team in the opening quarter, has been pegged back in its own half. The visitor's failure to convert the early chances has hurt it badly.

42' GOAL INDIA! Gurjit finds the target on her fourth attempt! She targets just the left side of the goalkeeper and gets a deflection on the way and gets the goal. Rani Rampal does brilliantly on the baseline to baseline to win the corner.

40' GOAL INDIA! Fantastic move by India as Neha, Vandana play an one-two on the left and put it across the goal where Sharmila Devi deflects it into the goal to double India's lead.

39' PC for India and SAVED! Kelsey Bing reads Gurjit's dragflick directed towards the top right corner and stretches her right arm to parry it away.

38' The opening goals has worked wonders for the host. Indians are looking confident with their passing and getting closer to the goal.

34' PC for India! Gurjit Kaur is unable to find the net with her dragflick and clearance falls to India. Neha Goyal has a second go at it, but only finds the US goalkeeper.

33' Reena Khokhar tries to find a pass from the right hand side but is unable to find her teammates at the end of it.

31' The second half begins! USA starts with a half-court as the forwards put the Indian defence under pressure.

HALF-TIME: INDIA 1-0 USA

Q2

30' The goal has spurred on the crowd at the Kalinga Stadium and the Indians are more confident going forward. Lilima Minz, who also scored the winner the last time India beat USA, in 2016 - India's only win over the Americans in the past 10 encounters.

29' GOAL INDIA! Completely against the run of play.  India wins back to back penalty corners and on Sharmila messes up the trap on the edge of the circle and works it away to Neha Goyal on the baseline, who does brilliantly to fend off her marker to pass the ball to Lilima Minz, who stabs home to give India the lead.

27' Penalty corner for USA! Another good chance wasted by the visitor. USA executes a dummy as Ali Froede takes a shot at the left corner, but the shot whizzes past Savita.

25' Both the sides have been wasteful inside the circle. However, USA looks the team to open the scoring.

23' Penalty Corner for USA! Sharkey wins a PC on the counter. She also stand overs the penalty corner and takes aim at the bottom right corner, missing the post by few inches.

22' Rani wins a penalty corner for India. However, Gurjit Kaur's dragflick is straight at the goalkeeper Kelsey Bing who parries it away to safety.

20' Rani steals possession in the centre and feeds Vandana Katariya, who gives away the ball easily.

19' India's defence looks more assured in the Q2. Virginia Bramley gets to the baseline and hits it on the reverse but Savita has the angle covered and swats it away to safety.

16' Close! First clear-cut chance for India. Lalremsiami hits a cross from the left towards an onrushing Sharmila at the far post. However, the winger is unable to get on the end of the cross and USA has a lucky escape.

Q1

15' Navneet is able to win a duel inside the circle and that brings an end to the first quarter where India has looked nervous in its approach.

13' India head coach Sjoerd Marijine seems to have found something and quickly goes for his drawing board and shows skipper Rani Rampal what needs to done.

11' India began with a high-press but USA has been sharp in creating chances and getting its shots away. Lilima Minz gets a green card for a foul on the midline. She will be benched for the next two minutes.

9' Close! USA works the ball from the right and Margaux Paolini shoots from the centre of the D. The ball hits the goalkeeper Savita's boot and rolls across the face off the goal as the Indians clear away the loose ball.

7' Shot! Alyssa Parker gets the ball on the right side and storms into the circle to pull the trigger. However, her shot lacked the power and India wins a free-hit.

5' Danger! Lilima Minz gives away possession near the right as US skipper Kathleen Sharkey dribbles around the Indian defence on the right side. However, her shot at the near post is off the target.

3' Monika tries to go for a cross on the right side but USA defence stays solid.

1' USA wins a free hit near the midline and works its way around from the back. Indians go for a full-court press to win the possession back.

* Push-back! Here we go!

* The teams walk out to the middle for the national anthems.

* Lineups

 

* Olympic Qualfiers format: India will play two back-to-back matches against USA on Friday and Saturday. The team with the highest number of goals over the two matches will qualify for the Olympics. If both the teams are tied on goals after the second-leg, then there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

* India beat USA only once in their past ten encounters. The victory came in July, 2016 in the tri-series involving India, USA and Canada. Jill Witmer (19') opened the scoring for USA but Preeti Dubey equalised for India while Lilima Minz (55') got the winner.

* Here's what happened when India and USA last clashed in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in London

 

* Indian women's team ranked 9th in the world, will take on world no 13 United States of America for an Olympic berth.  Here's the head-to-head record.

 

* But for all the spotlight that the men get, clearly a priority for those running the show, it is the women’s face-off that guarantees an exciting battle. Here is our correspondent Uthra Ganesan with the match preview.

Here is a look back at the history of women's hockey in Olympics

 

* We have recap of the first phase of women's qualifiers where the team fought tooth and nail for a place at Tokyo 2020. The match between China and Belgium provided some of the best moments on a hockey field. Read our round-up HERE.

 

* Here is the list of teams that have qualified to Tokyo 2020

 

Indian Women's road to the Olympic Qualifiers

* May, 2018 Asian Games, Jakarta, Indonesia - Sjoerd Marijne's team had to take the long road to 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the 2-1 defeat to Japan in the final of 18th Asian Games.

* June, 2019 FIH Series Finals, Hiroshima, Japan - Indian women exacted revenge for the Asian Games final defeat, which would have won them an automatic place at the Olympics. They beat Japan 3-1 in the Series Finals to qualify for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.

* November 1 and 2, FIH Olympic Qualifiers, Bhubaneswar - India will play two back-to-back matches against USA on Friday and Saturday. The team with the highest number of goals over the two matches will qualify for the Olympics. If both the teams are tied on goals after the second-leg, then there will be a shootout to decide the winner.