The difference between India (WR:10) and Italy (WR:17) was the first touch control and the ability to finish an attacking move successfully. When it came to bravery in defence you could not fault the Italian’s approach but when you saw the speed, agility and confidence of the Eves as this game progressed, the outcome became more and more obvious.
India won the first penalty corner of the game and although it was charged down by Ivanna Pessina, the subsequent ball in from India proved too clever for the Azzurre to deal with. Vitality Player of the Match Lalremsiami was on hand to lift the ball past Martina Chirico in the Italian goal after the ball was quickly switched across the circle by Vandana Katariya.
“Siami is the youngest player in our team (19) and I remember how, when I was 15, I played in my first World Cup and it was just so exciting,” said captain Rani. “She brings an extra energy that we feed off.”
The lead was nearly extended at the start of the second quarter as Lalremsiami was found in plenty of space but was unable to control the ball well enough to beat the rapidly advancing Chircio.
The second half saw Italy come out and begin to play a more attacking game. Jasbeer Singh and Lara Oviedo were both instrumental in creating chances, although when they managed to get the ball to the high-playing Valentina Braconi, she was dealt with by the impressive Lilima Minz in defence.
India were unfortunate not to extend their lead when a quick counter attack saw the ball skim past Chirico’s goal after a shot by Deepika.
Still India piled on the pressure and good work by Monika down the Indian right-hand side was rewarded by a penalty corner in the final minute of the third quarter. This resulted in a goal mouth scramble which Neha Goyal converted to make it 2-0.
It was nearly three as Navjot Kaur was left with just Chirico to beat but the ‘keeper showed her class as she stood up to the shot and Pessino cleared the pads.
The game was finally put beyond doubt when Vandana Katariya was rewarded with a goal in the 55th minute. A 3-0 scoreline was a reflection of the more attacking approach of India. The result means India now face Ireland on Thursday 2 August, an encounter that Rani is anticipating with relish. The teams met in an earlier Pool B match, where Ireland emerged as 1-0 winners.
“We have gained confidence throughout this tournament,” she said. “Early in the tournament we didn’t do the one thing we needed to do – score goals. But we have found the net now and we can definitely push on with our journey. We do not see that journey ending on Thursday.”
Despite the loss and exit from the tournament, Italy’s captain Chiara Tiddy was upbeat about her team’s performance.
“We have created history and more importantly we have shown that we are more than capable of competing at this level,” said the experienced defender who has been so instrumental in her team’s progress.
“We need to push on now and build on all we have learnt. We have more confidence in our ability after this tournament. I hope that we will now see more investment into Italian hockey so we can keep competing at the top level. We have definitely not been out of place here. I am very proud of the whole team.”