It was a game of set-piece finishes that toggled back and forth between India and the already-determined FIH Pro League champions, Argentina, on neutral territory in Rotterdam. India showed fantastic patience and execution to match the speed and unpredictably of the Leonas.
India celebrated taking Argentina to a 3-3 tie in regulation time and then finishing in style, earning the bonus point with a 2-1 win in the shootout. It was a dual celebration for India as Neha celebrated her 100th international after the game.
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A brilliant over the shoulder deflection from Lalremsiani opened the scoring for the game and for India in the fourth minute of play. Argentina were able to draw level in the second quarter on an Agustina Gorzelany penalty corner flick that ricocheted off the Indian post player’s stick and up into the mesh. Gorzelany put away two more from set pieces in the third quarter, first from a penalty stroke and then from a slick corner routine.
India played catch up tying the game 2-2 on a deceptive penalty corner flick from Kaur Gurjit in the 37th minute and then the tying third goal came off a rocket from an off-set battery execution in the 51st. The late goal sent the game to what would be Argentina’s third-straight shootout following their last two shootout losses to the Netherlands.
The Leonas struggled to execute in the shootout as Julieta Jankunas’ shot hit the back of her stick and bobbled wide, while Maria Granatto uncharacteristically lost control of the ball before even mustering a shot.
Rocio Sanchez’s shot couldn’t beat Indian keeper Savita between the legs and Victoria Granatto was the only Leona to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, India showed class and flair as Neha and Sonika were able to calmly beat Belen Succi in the Argentina goal and secure the extra point for coach Janneke Schopman’s side.
“We did really good and are all playing very well,” said India’s Lalremsiani, named Player of the Match after her brilliant deflection goal in the game. “It’s not easy to win over Argentina because they are a good team. I am proud of our performance. We played as a team and played together, helping each other and we had a good effort as a team so I’m really happy with that.”
Both teams will dual again on Sunday at HC Rotterdam for the second of their double-header FIH Pro League match up.
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