Olympics-Hockey-India, Argentina women reach semis, Australia, Germany out
Newsfrom JapanSports Tokyo 2020
By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) - India reached the semi-finals of the women’s Olympic hockey tournament on Monday after securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over Australia following a tense match at the Tokyo Olympics.
India will now face Argentina in the semi-finals on Wednesday after the South Americans cleared the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012 after a 3-0 win over Germany.
Gurjit Kaur scored India’s winning goal off a first-half penalty corner that made its way past Australia goalie Rachael Lynch, who had kept a clean sheet in the previous four matches.
Australia were unable to equalise in the second half despite ramping up the pressure and winning a number of penalty corners.
Argentina’s women team have never won an Olympic hockey gold medal, but clinched silver both at the 2012 London Games and the 2000 Sydney Games, the latter being where they earned the nickname Las Leonas, or lionesses.
Las Leonas were elated after beating Germany, with some players crying as they celebrated around goalie Belen Succi, who was on the team that was knocked out of the quarter-finals in 2016 by the Netherlands.
“We have to keep fighting,” Argentina’s Maria Victoria Granatto said. “We are going to play one of the most important games of our lives.”
Argentina stepped up the pace against their opponents from the start, with their skilful and fast attackers posing a threat to the Germans, who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics.
Their effort came to fruition shortly before the halftime break when a hard pass from Rocio Sanchez Moccia crossed in front of the goal to reach Agustina Albertarrio, who deflected the ball with her stick behind the German goalie.
The game had barely restarted when Maria Victoria Granatto doubled the score off a penalty corner with about a minute left to play until the halftime break.
After the halftime break, the Germans were unable to break down their opponent’s defence. Argentina sealed the win in the 52th minute when Valentina Raposo Ruiz scored her country’s third goal through another penalty corner.
“The first goal was the knockout for us because then they get their chests up and they get better and better,” said veteran Franzisca Hauke, who played her last match for Germany.
“I’m really disappointed and sad that it’s the end of my journey,” a crying Hauke added.
Hauke’s brother Tobias is captain of the German men’s squad that reached the semi-finals after beating Argentina on Sunday.
“We watched the game yesterday,” she said.
“We knew that Argentina’s women are the better team. They have really good strikers, they’re really fast,” she added, comparing the women’s team to the country’s men’s squad.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Himani Sarkar)