Playing exhilarating hockey from the word go, an aggressive Indian women's team crushed title holders Japan 4-0 to lift its second Asian Champions Trophy title in Ranchi on Sunday. (Hockey News)
The match started 50 minutes late because of issues with the floodlights. India overcame the two-time champions through goals from Sangita Kumari (17th minute), Neha (46th), Laremsiami (57th) and Vandana Katariya (60th).
India won their maiden Asian Champions Trophy title in 2016 in Singapore, while Japan bagged the crown twice, in 2013 and 2021.
The Indians started on an attacking note while Japan preferred to sit back and rely on counter attacks. India got a golden opportunity to take lead but Deepika failed to find the net from an one-on-one situation with Japanese goalkeeper Akio Tanaka.
The Indians continued to dominate the possession as Japan were busy in defending. The Japanese too had their share of chances but they failed to breach the resolute Indian defence.
Two minutes into the second quarter, India took the lead through Sangita who scored with a high hit after being fed by Neha Goyal. The Indians continued their relentless attacks on the Japanese goal but failed to get the finishing touch.
Japan found the net in the second quarter through Shiho Kobayakawa but the goal was disallowed after India asked for referral for a body contact when the ball was received.
The Japanese upped their ante in the second quarter with continuous attacks but the Indian defence stood tall. In the 25th minute, Japan secured three back-to-back penalty corners but the Indians defended in numbers to deny their opponents.
It was a neck-and-neck fight between the two teams after the change of ends with both India and Japan pressing hard for goals. But goals eluded them in the third quarter as the defence of both the sides were up to the task.
The Indians came out all guns blazing in the fourth quarter and pressed hard on the Japanese goal, and their efforts bore fruit. A minute into the fourth quarter, India secured three consecutive penalty corners. Neha scored from Deep Grace's hit.
India continued to put pressure on the Japanese defence, which resulted in success when in the 57th minute Lalremsiami scored from a rebound after Udita's initial strike from a penalty corner was saved by the Japanese keeper.
Just before the final hooter, Vandana registered her name in the score sheet, scoring a fine field goal as the Indians recorded an emphatic victory.
Earlier in the day, Asian Games champions China beat South Korea 2-1 to secure the third place. Yi Chen (3rd minute) and Tiantian Luo (47th) scored for the winners while Sujin An (38th) found the target for Korea.