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Women’s Asia Cup Hockey 2017: India beat China 5-4 to clinch the title

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Japan, Nov 5: India created history by defeating China 5-4 in finals of Women’s Asia Cup Hockey to clinch the title on Sunday. 

After the 1-1 tie in the regulation time the game went to shoot outs where India clinched the issue.

India win Asia Cup after a gap of 13 years. This was the Indian women’s second Asia Cup title. They had won their last continental title in 2004.

With this, India also qualified for 2018 World Cup as Continental Champions.

It was skipper Rani who scored the winning goal for India while Savita made a great save in sudden death to ensure India the 5-4 score in the penalty shootout.

Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India’s lone goal in the 25th minute. It was in 2004 when the Indian Women’s Team lifted the Asia Cup after beating Japan 1-0 in the final.

It was advantage China right at the start as a stick check in the circle saw India concede a penalty corner in only the second minute of the game.

However, Savita was at her usual best to pad it away while an alert Deep Grace cleared the ball.

Soon after, the Indian forwards launched a swift attack with Navneet Kaur and Vandana working in tandem to find space in the Chinese defence but an attentive Wang Na averted the danger.

China, meanwhile, won their second penalty corner but Savita was spot on yet again to pad away Meiyu Liang’s flick.

With the first quarter ending in a stalemate, India came back looking determined to find a breakthrough.

The Indian forwards kept the pressure on China as they made brave forays into the striking circle.

Navjot Kaur came close to converting a field goal in the 17th minute but her diving effort was blocked even as skipper Rani made a quick attempt to find a deflection.

It was not until the 25th minute when India found its first breakthrough when Navneet Kaur and Rani played give-and-take before penetrating the circle only to assist Navjot who took a clear shot on goal.

It was a much-needed 1-0 lead for India. Though China launched a counter attack soon after, the Indian defenders were up to the task in denying them success.

India began the third quarter rather positively as they persisted with an aggressive attack.

They dominated the ball possession with accurate passing, rotating the ball and testing China’s patience. Neha Goyal and Lilima Minz showcased good dribbling skills to steer past the Chinese defenders but a second goal was not to come by even as the clock ticked away to the third hooter.

On China’s part, they stayed disciplined in their defence to deny India a chance to score through a penalty corner.

The final quarter was tense as China won a penalty corner through a successful video referral in the 47th minute.

Tiantian Luo kept low as she improvised from the injection to find the right corner of the post, scoring a sensational equaliser for China.

The following minutes saw both teams play at par with each other not allowing either of them to stay in control.

With nine minutes left for the final hooter, India upped their attack desperately attempting to find a gap in the 15-yard mark but the Chinese defenders were resolute in not allowing any room for error.

Meanwhile, China won their fourth penalty corner of the match with a little less than three minutes to go for the final whistle.

But it was brilliantly saved by rusher Sunita Lakra and almost immediately, India launched a counter attack but only to send the ball wide off the target and complete the full-time in a stalemate resulting in a shootout.

In the penalty shootout Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each to ensure India reclaimed the Asia Cup title after 13 years.

Savita was adjudged Goalkeeper of the Tournament while Monica won the Woman of the Match award.

WeForNews Bureau

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FIFA WC 2018: Brazil edge past brave Costa Rica with last gasp goals

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Sochi, June 23: Philippe Coutinho and Neymar Junior scored late in the second half as Brazil ensured their passage to the second round with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Costa Rica in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup here on Friday.

Both Brazilians struck in the second half added time at the Saint Petersburg Stadium to hand the five-time World Cup winners their first victory in the tournament.

Costa Rica managed to hold fast for the full 90 minutes of normal play thanks to a solid display from goalkeeper Keylor Navas but one minute into stoppage time, Barça’s Coutinho rescued Brazil, driving through the defense to attack a loose ball in the penalty area, smashing it home between the legs of the Real Madrid man between the posts.

Then, in the dying embers of stoppage time, of which there were six minutes, Neymar, who was yet to score at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, connected to a simple cross to tap home and seal the game.

At the final whistle, the most expensive player in the world broke into tears of relief in the center of the pitch.

Brazil, one of this year’s favourites to win the trophy, all but secured its place in the knockout stages of the competition, recovering from a 1-1 draw in its opening match against Switzerland, who in turn is to meet with Serbia in the evening kick-off.

Costa Rica put on a tough display in the first half knowing that a loss would essentially resign them to booking an early ticket home, but the players tired towards the end of the 90 minutes and succumbed to the relentless attacking tactics of the Brazilians.

Brazil, who now top the table with 4 points, is set to play Serbia on Jun 27 in its final Group E match.

IANS

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Ahmed Musa double downs Iceland to keep Nigeria’s World Cup dreams alive

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Volgograd (Russia), June 23: Two brilliant strikes by Ahmed Musa propelled Nigeria to a 2-0 win over Iceland in a Group D match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup here on Friday.

Musa (49th, 75th minutes) scored both his goals in the second half as Nigeria revived their chances of advancing to the second round.

The Africans, who had lost 0-2 to Croatia in their campaign opener, now have three points from two matches.

They now face a must win clash against Argentina in their third and last group encounter.

Iceland have two points from as many matches. They had held mighty Argentina 1-1 in their first match.

The result also helps the chances for Lionel Messi’s Argentina to advance, as they can move from bottom of the table into second with a win over Nigeria, so long as Iceland do not beat Croatia by an equal or larger margin.

In the first half of the game, chances were few and far between. While Nigeria dominated possession, Iceland got the better chances to take the lead.

The best of them all was a Gylfi Sigurdsson effort which was tipped over the bar by Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.

Nigeria nosed ahead four minutes into the second period when Victor Moses sprinted down the right wing and crossed towards Musa. The Nigerian controlled beautifully, before slamming home to give his side the lead.

Musa could have grabbed a hattrick had his attempt from 20 yards not come off the crossbar.

Musa then sped past Iceland right-back Kari Arnason on the wing to round goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson and score his second of the evening.

Iceland were handed a lifeline when Tyronne Ebuehi was late on a challenge on Alfred Finnbogason, and the referee gave a penalty — though only after reviewing the play on video.

But Sigurdsson sent his shot high over the bar and into the stands after a short run-up and Nigeria held on to take the three points.

IANS

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World Cup: Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1 in Group E tie

Switzerland equalised in the second half, thanks to a superb long range strike by Granit Xhaka (52nd).

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Kaliningrad (Russia), June 23 (IANS) A late goal by Xherdan Shaqiri earned Switzerland 2-1 win over Serbia in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup at the Kaliningrad Stadium here.

Aleksandar Mitrovic handed Serbia the lead in the fifth minute during the match on Friday.

Switzerland equalised in the second half, thanks to a superb long range strike by Granit Xhaka (52nd).

Shaqiri (90th) found the winning goal in the final minute of regulation time.

Switzerland now have four points from two matches.

Serbia have three points from two games.

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