Women’s hockey: India edges past Korea by 3-2

Goals for India were scored by Poonam Rani (6th minute), skipper Rani (27th minute) and Gurjit Kaur (32nd minute), while Yurim Lee (10th) and Jungeun Seo (31st) scored for the host.

The South Koreans came from behind twice in the match, but India (above) had the last laugh by keeping its nerve. (File Photo)   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

The Indian women’s hockey team edged past Korea 3-2 in an absorbing contest to grab a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, here on Tuesday. The South Koreans came from behind twice in the match, but India had the last laugh by keeping its nerve.

Goals for India were scored by Poonam Rani (6th minute), skipper Rani (27th minute) and Gurjit Kaur (32nd minute), while Yurim Lee (10th) and Jungeun Seo (31st) scored for the host.

With India’s confidence high after its 1-0 victory in the first match on Monday, it started the first quarter aggressively by making attacking forays inside the opposition’s half. It was rewarded for its efforts when Poonam scored to give her side the lead.

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South Korea also had chances in the first quarter and was awarded two Penalty Corners. It made a comeback match by converting the first one through Yurim Lee.

The host could have taken the lead in the later stages of the first quarter, but India defended well to save the second PC as the teams ended the first period locked at a goal apiece.

The second quarter saw South Korea start off with back-to-back Penalty Corners to put India under pressure. However, the visitor stuck to its task as it defended well with young goalkeeper Swati making crucial saves to deny the host.

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With the pressure piling on India, it was a brilliant team-move from the visitor on the counter which saw captain Rani find the back of the net to give her team an important 2-1 lead in the 27th minute.

The teams went into half-time with India leading by a single goal, but with South Korea having better chances in the opening half-hour.

India did not start the third quarter well as in the 31st minute, Seo scored a field goal to equalise for the second time in the match. However, India’s forwards produced some precise passing to win a Penalty Corner in the 32nd minute, which was well-converted by Gurjit Kaur.

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South Korea did not throw in the towel, and with almost 25 minutes still to play in the match, it showed fight to unnerve the Indian defence, which saw it win a penalty stroke in the 34th minute. But to the host’s disappointment, it was saved by Swati.

It was an important last quarter in the context of the match as South Korea looked to find the equaliser, while the visitor looked to hold on to the lead.

The host tried to win back possession quickly and played some aggressive hockey in the final quarter, but the Indian defence stood tall.

In the final few minutes, the host played with 11 outfield players, but India’s grit and determination helped it secure a second consecutive victory in the series. India will play its third match of the five-match series against South Korea on March 8.