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Indian eves pip Italy to stay afloat
Y Sarangi | December 02, 2007 19:19 IST
Making amends for their lapses in the first half, India notched up a hard-fought 2-1 win over Italy [Images] to keep their title hopes alive at the Lal Bahadur Shastri four-nation women's hockey tournament in New Delhi on Sunday.
Their defensive strategy and missed chances in the first half spelt trouble for the hosts, who allowed the 19th ranked Italy to take a 1-0 lead through Valentina Quaranta's 29th minute penalty corner conversion.
India got their acts together in the second half to score through Saba Anjum (48th) and Suman Bala (53rd) and collect three crucial points in their second game at the Shivaji Stadium.
After losing a couple of chances in the first 10 minutes, the dispirited hosts were outplayed by the physically stronger Italians.
The fumbling Indian eves could not match up to the Europeans' fast-paced game and looked miserable in their bid to apply breaks on their rivals.
Italy got two back-to-back penalty corners and off the second, Valentina drew the first blood through a direct hit, much to the disappointment of the home fans.
Soon after, Daniela Possali got a golden chance to score with none but goalkeeper Marita Tirkey to beat. However, the Indian custodian dived to her right to foil the attempt.
In the second half, a desperate India resorted to an attacking combination by pushing one player up. They showed urgency in their game and initiated several raids to rattle the Italians.
After skipper Mamta Kharab spoilt two potential opportunities, the home side earned a couple of penalty corners.
In the 48th minute, a penalty corner push by Mamta could not be trapped properly. But Subhadra Pradhan, who was posted outside the 'D', quickly provided the back-up and the experienced Anjum shot home in a flash to draw parity.
Backed by the vociferous home crowd, the Indian wingers kept the Italian defenders on their toes and got three more short corners.
The fourth penalty corner brought more cheers for Mamta and her teammates as Suman Bala's power-packed hit beat Italian custodian Paula Calvo to register the winning goal.
Suman was declared the player of the match.
India coach G S Bhangu admitted that the team did not play well in the first half and the attacking approach after the break resulted in the win.
"In the first half, we were playing defensively with a three-forward formation. Unfortunately that did not work," he said.
"We had no option but to be attacking in the second half and we fielded a 4-4-2 combination, which brought us the victory," the coach said, adding the defensive approach was part of the system being adopted for the long-term development of the side.
Bhangu admitted his side was found wanting in passing and interchange of positions among players.
On Tuesday, India will play Azerbaijan in their last round robin outing after a day's break.