The Indian women’s hockey team stunned Olympic champions Netherlands 2-1 in the first game of their double-legged FIH Pro League game here on Saturday. The Indians scored via Neha (11th minute) and Sonika (28th), both from penalty corners, to give the home team a 2-0 lead at halftime. After the change of half, the Netherlands scored in the 40th minute from a penalty corner via Jansen Yibbi to narrow the margin. This was India’s fourth win in the FIH Pro League.
Even though the Netherlands arrived in India with a second-string side, it was a creditable achievement by the Indians as they were also without three main protagonists – Lalremsiami, Salima Tete and Sharmila Devi, who were part of India’s historic fourth-place finish in the Tokyo Olympics.
The Netherlands have come here without any player from their successful Olympic campaign.
India avenged the 1-5-drubbing against the Netherlands in the group stage of the Tokyo Games.
The win moved India to second in the standings with 15 points from seven matches, while the Netherlands remained in the lead with 17 points from as many matches.
Both teams will clash again in the second game of the draw on Saturday.
Although India had more ball possession, the Netherlands was the better team in terms of circle penetration, shots on goal and penalty corners.
The Netherlands had 30 circle penetrations, 13 shots on target and seven penalty corners compared to India’s 12 circle penetrations, five shots on target and three set pieces.
But in the end it was about the result and the execution and in those areas India came forward with flying colors.
The Indians took the lead from their first real attack of the game, which came from a penalty corner via an alert Neha who turned away from Navneet Kaur’s pass after the first attempt was held back by the Dutch defence.
Early in the second quarter, Rajwinder missed a golden opportunity to double India’s lead, with only the Dutch goalkeeper to beat when she sent her shot wide.
Two minutes before half time, India doubled their lead from another penalty corner via Sonika, who calmly went home after a scramble.
After ten minutes in the third quarter, the Netherlands secured a penalty corner, which resulted in a penalty shot after the ball hit Monika’s body in front of the goal.
India’s captain and goalkeeper, Savita, guessed the right direction but couldn’t stop Yibbi’s shot, as the Netherlands narrowed the margin to 1-2.
After that, the Dutch women put enormous pressure on the Indian defense with continuous attacks, but the home team defense stood as a rock to take the full three points and a rare win over the Netherlands.
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