Hockey Nations cup: India beat Japan 2-1, inch closer to semifinals

India thwarted a late fightback from their Asian Games nemesis Japan to secure a 2-1 victory and inch closer to the semi-final spot at the FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup in Valencia on Monday. Salima Tete gave India a fifth minute lead when she tackled two Japanese defenders with a change of direction inside the D before slotting the ball past Eika Nakamura with a cool-headed finish. Jharkhand teenager Beauty Dungdung then scored her first International goal at the senior level with a superb effort as she emerged through a resolute Japanese hustle to slot the ball in the 40th minute.

Japan made a strong fightback in the final quarter and it was Rui Takashima who pulled one back in the 49th minute but India managed to hold on to secure their second win from as many games. India defeated Chile 3-1 in their opening match of Pool B in the eight-nation tournament.

The Savita Punia-led side now has six points from two games to lead Pool B.

They will need a draw against South Africa in their concluding league match here on December 14 to seal their last-four berth.

India started the match with a flurry of attacks and it was Player-of-the-Match Tete who finally gave them the upperhand with a superb finish.

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They could have easily got a few more but their penalty corner conversions remained a headache for the Janneke Schopman-coached side.

India got nine attempts from PC but none of them could be converted as their designated dragflicker Gurjit Kaur once again cut a sorry figure. India had lost 1-2 to Japan to settle for a silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games.

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