Indian women’s hockey scripted a historic moment by making their maiden entry into the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Monday.
India defeated world No. 2 Australia 1-0 in the quarterfinals to storm into the last-four stage, marking their maiden entry into the medal round with a brilliant performance against a team that had dominated the tournament so far and was one of the favourites to win the gold medal.
Drag flicker Gurjit Kaur scored the all-important goal in the 22nd minute with a powerful flick that deflected off a defender’s stick into the goal.
India earned a penalty corner in the 21st minute of the match and went ahead, increasing the pressure on the Hockeyroos. Drag flicker Gurjit Kaur, who had failed to score a single direct goal despite a bag full of chances, struck for India, her drag-flick getting deflected from a defender’s stick and looping over goalkeeper Rachael Ann Lynch’s outstretched leg into the goal.
A goal that will go in the history books!Watch Gurjit Kaur’s brilliant drag flick that led #IND to a 1-0 win over #AUS in an epic quarter-final #Tokyo2020 | #UnitedByEmotion | #StrongerTogether | #Hockey | #BestOfTokyo pic.twitter.com/MkXqjprLxo
— #Tokyo2020 for India (@Tokyo2020hi) August 2, 2021
“We are so happy, it is the result of hard work that we put in for several, several days. In 1980, we qualified for the Games but this time, we made the semifinals. It is a proud moment for us," Gurjit said after the match.
“This team is like a family, we have supported each other and found support from the country as well. We are very happy," she added.
Tears flowed as India celebrated a historic result.
Emotions running high !Bleeding BlueSuper proud of you girls. @imranirampal @savitahockey and Team. What a control , beating world No 2 in QF. India, is cheering for you. #ChakDe pic.twitter.com/p0dCHfhv72
— Dept of Sports MYAS (@IndiaSports) August 2, 2021
The Indians then defended superbly and did not allow Australia, three-time gold medallists in the Olympics, to score in the entire second half with defenders Deep Grace Ekka, Udita and Gurjit Kaur and midfielder Monika, standing like a wall to guard the goal. And whenever the Aussies got past them, goalkeeper Savita was there to save India as she pulled off at least seven brilliant saves to thwart the Hockeyroos.
The Indians attacked aggressively, defended stoutly and controlled the midfield that allowed them to enjoy possession in the first half. Australia could not get into their rhythm early on and kept chasing the ball in the entire match.