Women’s Hockey WC: India loses 0-1 to Ireland

India slipped to a 1-0 loss against Ireland in its Women's Hockey World Cup group league match on Thursday, leaving the side with a slim chance of reaching the quarterfinal.

Lilima Minz of India battles with Ireland's Megan Frazer during the Pool B game between India and Ireland in the Women's Hockey World Cup on Thursday.   -  Getty Images

India slipped to a 1-0 loss against Ireland in a Women's Hockey World Cup group league match on Thursday, leaving the side with a slim chance of reaching the quarterfinal.

A 13th minute penalty corner conversion by Anna O’Flanagan proved to be the winner as Ireland defended doggedly to record consecutive upsets in the tournament, having earlier shocked world No. 7 USA 3-1 in the tournament opener. By virtue of this win, Ireland now leads Pool B with six points, followed by England (2 points), India and USA (1 point each).

It was also India’s second consecutive defeat to Ireland, having lost 1-2 to the same opponent in its last encounter at the Hockey World league Semifinals in Johannesburg last year.

Placed six places above Ireland in the world rankings at No. 10, the Indians came into the match as favourites but never looked the part. Ireland, on the other hand, grew in confidence as the match progressed and looked more threatening.

India lacked energy and vision and with temperatures and humidity soaring high, Rani Rampal and her team were caught napping by the Irish on more than one occasion. It was not that India did not create enough chances. The side failed to secure a single penalty corner in its 1-1 draw against England, it secured as many as seven penalty corners on Thursday but failed to convert a single one.

Ireland took an early lead from its first penalty corner when O’Flanagan scored with a great deflection from a set piece. In total Ireland earned three penalty corners. India also had chances to score from open play but the forwards lacked the finishing touch.

In the last minute of the second quarter, Lilima Minz got an open ball inside the box but her feeble shot was an easy save for the Ireland goalkeeper as India went into the breather trailing by a goal.

After the change of ends, India got its fourth penalty corner in the 37th minute but Gurjit Kaur’s flick was saved by the Irish goalie diving to her right. The Indians continued to attack but the forays lacked sting. India earned two more penalty corners in quick succession but to no avail.

In the final quarter, Ireland had a great chance to double its lead but an unmarked Nicola Evans failed to deflect in Kathryn Mullan’s inch-perfect cross from the right flank.

In the 54th minute, India secured its seventh and final penalty corner but Ireland was impeccable. Skipper Rampal got the best opportunity for India to draw level as she surged inside the circle after snatching the ball from an Irish defender but her fierce shot from one-on-one situation was just parried out by the Irish goalkeeper.

India will next play USA in a must-win last pool game on July 29 to stand in with any chance of progressing to the knockout stage while Ireland will take on England.

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