Navneet Kaur scored a late goal — her first in the competition — as India beat Ireland in a Pool A match on Friday to stay alive in the women's hockey event at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
If India defeats South Africa on Saturday and Ireland doesn't come out on top against Great Britain, the Indians will book their place in the knockout stage of the Olympic Games for the very first time.
After three goalless quarters, Navneet received a brilliant pass at close range and deflected the ball into the net in the 57th minute. Ireland referred it but the umpire's decision stood in India's favour much to the delight of head coach Sjoerd Marijne.
Earlier in the outing, India had several chances to open the scoring right from the first whistle, earning as many as 14 penalty corners in the match. But the team failed to utilise even a single one of them.
Just three minutes from the final hooter, a moment of brilliance from skipper Rani Rampal, who created the opportunity for Navneet, rescued India from an early exit at the Games.
On Wednesday, the Indian women's hockey team had slumped to its third successive defeat, losing 1-4 to defending champion Great Britain. Needing a victory to keep its last-eight hopes alive, India edged past the Irish after dominating most parts of the game.
The top four sides from each group (A and B) will advance to the quarters, which will take place on Monday in Japan.