Women’s hockey: Rani Rampal helps India defeat Spain 3-2

The India captain scored a goal just a minute before the final hooter to gift India its first win of the five-match series.

File Photo: Rani Rampal scored India’s third goal.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Helped by captain Rani Rampal’s late goal, the Indian women’s team defeated Spain 3-2 in Madrid to register its first win of the five-match series. India and Spain are now tied 1-1 in the series after three matches. While Spain beat India 3-0 in the opener, the second game between the two sides finished in a 1-1 draw.

Spain began well; it took an early lead through Maria Lopez’s strike from its second penalty corner in the third minute. The host continued to test the Indian defence in the first quarter and goalkeeper Savita was called into action soon when she made a fine reflex save to deny Spain.

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The Indians started to get into the game in the second quarter as both teams battled for possession. They defended their lines well, keeping out Spain’s third penalty corner in the 19th minute. They made some effective forays into the rival territory in the closing stages of the quarter, forcing Spanish goalkeeper Melanie Garcia to make a fine save in the 25th minute.

Keen tussle

India kept up the pressure on the Spanish defence and won a penalty corner which was converted by Gurjit Kaur in the 28th minute as both the teams went into the half-way break tied at 1-1.

India started on a bright note after the change of ends and produced a great move to score a well-constructed field goal through young striker Lalremsiami in the 32nd minute. Forward Vandana Katariya also got an open chance in the 42nd minute but could not score in her 200th International cap. A tense final few moments of the match saw the host put the Indian defence under constant pressure, winning two penalty corners, the first of which was saved by the Indian goalkeeper.

Reira equalises

However, Spain’s Lola Riera continued her fine goal-scoring form; she remained calm under pressure to convert the next penalty corner in the 58th minute and level the scores.

But just when it looked the two teams were set to share the spoils, Rani scored a wonderful field goal just a minute from the final hooter to hand India the win.

The fourth match of the series will be played late on Saturday.