The Indian women’s hockey team stunned Olympic champions Netherlands with a clinical 2-1 win in their first leg of the FIH Pro League 2021-22 encounter at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Both teams return for the second leg on Saturday. (More Hockey News)
It was also India’s first win over Netherlands in over a decade that also ended the Dutch side’s long winning streak in FIH competitions. Netherlands last lost against Argentina in the FIH Pro League back in 2020. This was India's fourth win in the FIH Pro League.
The Indians scored through Neha (11th minute) and Sonika (28th), both from penalty corners, to hand the home team a 2-0 lead at half-time. After the change of ends, the Netherlands scored from a penalty corner through Jansen Yibbi in the 40th minute to reduce the margin.
Even though the Netherlands have arrived here with a second-string side with eight debutants, it was a creditable performance from the Indians as they were also without three key players -- Lalremsiami, Salima Tete and Sharmila Devi, who were part of India's historic fourth-place finish in the Tokyo Olympics.
Surprisingly, Netherlands have come here without any player from their successful Olympic campaign. India avenged the 1-5 drubbing against the Netherlands in the pool stage of the Tokyo Games.
The victory took India to the second spot in the standings with 15 points from seven games, while the Netherlands continued to lead the table with 17 points from as many matches. Even though India enjoyed more possession, the Netherlands were the better side on display in terms of circle penetration, shots on goal and penalty corners.
The Netherlands had 30 circle penetrations, 13 shots on goal and seven penalty corners as compared to India's 12 circle penetrations, five shots on goal and three set pieces. But what matter eventually was the result and execution and in those areas India came out with flying colours.
Best moments 📸 from our victory over the Netherlands in the FIH Hockey Pro League on April 8 2022 at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar!#IndiaKaGame#HockeyIndia#HockeyAtItsBest#FIHProleague@CMO_Odisha@sports_odisha@IndiaSports@Media_SAIpic.twitter.com/luSunGyP68— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) April 8, 2022
The Indians took the lead from their first real attack of the match, which came off a penalty corner through an alert Neha who deflected home from Navneet Kaur's pass after the initial effort was kept out by the Dutch defence.
Early into the second quarter, Rajwinder missed a golden opportunity to double India's lead with only the Dutch goalkeeper to beat as she sent her shot wide. Two minutes from half time, India doubled their lead from another penalty corner through Sonika, who calmly slotted home following a goalmouth scramble.
Ten minutes into the third quarter, the Netherlands secured a penalty corner which resulted to a penalty stroke after the ball hit Monika's body in front of goal. India captain and goalkeeper Savita guessed the direction right but couldn't keep away Yibbi's shot as the Netherlands reduced the margin to 1-2.
Thereafter, the Dutch women put the Indian defence under tremendous pressure with continuous raids but the home team defence stood like a rock to garner full three points and rare win over the Netherlands.
Navneet Kaur, playing in her 100th match for India won the player of the match and said: “Happy with the 100th cap and really happy for the team for this impressive win, hopefully we can do the same again tomorrow.”
Dutch captain Van Laarhoven said she was not too disappointed with the result. “We are a young team so it will take a little time to find the right rhythm. We played well enough and just need to convert more of the chances. Hopefully, we can do that tomorrow.”
With PTI Inputs