WATCH | Savita Punia stars in shootout against Ireland in semis, takes India to final of FIH Nations Cup

WATCH | Savita Punia stars in shootout against Ireland in semis, takes India to final of FIH Nations Cup

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On Friday, the Indian hockey team won a nail-biting semi-final shootout against Ireland in Valencia, Spain, to advance to the Women's FIH Nations Cup 2022 final. After Carroll Naomi put Ireland ahead, Udita (44') equalised for India; At 1-1 at the final whistle, India won the shootout 2-1.

The victory on Friday maintains India's chances of being promoted to the FIH Pro League for the 2023-24 season alive. The inaugural Women's FIH Nations Cup champion will be moved to the Pro League the following year.

India, which had a 4-3 head-to-head record versus Ireland heading into the match, got out to a fast start and dominated possession. The Indian squad, on the other hand, lacked the cutting edge in the opposing third to threaten the rival goal.

Ireland gradually gained a footing in the game and enjoyed the benefits in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. Carroll Naomi broke quickly and past Indian goalkeeper Savita Punia with a well-placed shot to put Ireland up 1-0.

India, which is now ranked eighth in the world in hockey, sought an early reaction in the second quarter, and vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka of India almost managed to tie the score. Her low shot from a penalty corner took a deflection, leaving Irish goalkeeper Elizabeth Murphy stranded, but it cleared the post before coming out.

India gained another penalty corner with little over a minute remaining in the second half, but the Irish defenders were able to stop them. Naomi appeared to have defeated Savita again on the ensuing counter, but the celebrations were stopped short when the goal was ruled out due to a back-stick infraction following a review by the Indian side.

The Irish were ahead 1-0 at the half when the buzzer rang. The Indian squad came out firing in the third quarter in an effort to score an equaliser. But Murphy's brilliant goalkeeping performance kept the Indian squad at bay. The Dubliner made numerous outstanding saves, including several from penalty corners.

After being repeatedly denied by Murphy, Udita was able to defeat the Irish goalkeeper with a wonderfully placed PC in the bottom corner, ending Murphy's heroic struggle.

The game continued to flow similarly in the third quarter, with India applying more pressure in an effort to win, and Murphy holding firm to her position. As the game entered a shootout with the score tied at 1, the last hooter sounded.

In the shootout, both Murphy and Savita displayed excellent goalkeeping performances, but India ultimately emerged victorious, winning 2-1. India will play Spain in the championship game after Spain defeated Japan in the other semifinal.

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