Rani Rampal, Gurjit Kaur lead India to series-levelling win over Spain
Skipper Rani Rampal and defender Gurjit Kaur struck a brace each as Indian women hockey team thrashed Spain 4-1 in the fifth and final match to level the series 2-2.
India dominated the match in terms of possession and chances created as Rani (33′, 37′) provided the side a two-goal cushion at the Consejo Superior de Deportes hockey stadium.
The India skipper was backed by two well-converted penalty corners by Gurjit (44′, 50′) towards the closing stages of the match.
Spain’s Lola Riera (58′) scored the consolation goal for the hosts. In the second minute, Indian forward Vandana Katariya get a sight on the Spanish goal but the 26-year-old’s effort was saved by Spain’s Goalkeeper Maria Ruiz. India’s aggressive start fetched them two penalty corners in the first five minutes, but Ruiz was called into action again, and she was upto the task.
India maintained pressure on the hosts in the second quarter and did not give away possession easily. The world no. 10 team showed quality in the mid-field and made an attempt through young forward Lalremsiami but it was saved by Maria Ruiz.
Spain could not manage to get a grip on the match but did well to deny any clear goal-scoring opportunities to the visitors.
In the third quarter India utilised their possession to good effect as Rani was found in the striking circle with an accurate pass by midfielder Namita Toppo and the captain stroked home a delightful finish to give her team the lead in the 33rd minute.
Four minutes later, India’s ace striker Rani was again presented with an opportunity to score at the end of a team-move, and the 23-year-old found the back of the net to increase India’s lead to two goals.
Gurjit also registered her name on the score-sheet as she converted a penalty corner in the 44th minute to make the scores 3-0 in India’s favour.
India dominated in the last quarter as well, winning two penalty corners in the opening five minutes. The first was saved by a Spanish defender and the second was stroked into the back of the net by Gurjit Kaur as she scored her second goal of the match. At 4-0, India looked comfortable in possession and made sure that they were not allowing the hosts to find space inside their half. However, in the 58th minute, the world no. 11 team hit India on the counter and won themselves a penalty corner, which was converted by Lola Riera, as the match ended 4-1 in India’s favour.