*Vandana scores first goal

New Delhi, July  31:Playing to a plan, India overwhelmed the hosts and favourite Spain 3-0 to win the three-nation Women's International Hockey Tournament  (Torneo del Centenario 2023) in Barcelona.

This was on Sunday. 

Vandana Katariya (22'), Monika (48') and Udita (58')  scored for the winners as India remained unbeaten in the tournament held to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Spanish Hockey Federation World no 8 India started the tournament with a 1-1 draw against England and held Spain to a 2-2 stalemate in the next match. A Lalremsiami hat-trick helped them record a 3-0 win over England on Saturday to top of the table. Spain needed a win to topple India from the top spot.

With Sunday’s win, India topped the standings with eight points from four matches while Spain concluded the tournament with four points from their four matches - the same as England.

India opened the game cautiously, as they tried to hold on to the ball with short, accurate passes that allowed them to create space in the circle. But they failed to breach the rival defense. on the other hand, Spain after being defensive for the first ten minutes launched incisive counterattacks and created some fine opportunities in the last five minutes of the first quarter but Captain and goalie Savita guarding the post foiled all the attacks. Spain was awarded a PC in the 11th minute which she cleared and also averted a potential field goal.

In the second quarter, India dominated the midfield, showing clear intent to take the lead.  In the 22nd minute, Sushila set up a fine opening for  Neha Goyal with a swift pass in the top of the circle, but Neha's shot on goal bounced off the Spanish goalie Clara Perez's pads. Lalremsiami,  picked up the rebound and smashed it past the goalie. To ensure it popped into the net, Vandana made a slight touch to push it past the goal-line. (1-0)

Buoyed by this lead India went all out on the offensive. They mounted pressure on Spain and extended the lead to 2-0 in the 48th minute when they worked in tandem to earn a PC. Taking the shot, Monika was on target to send the ball past Maria Ruiz who had replaced Perez in the Spanish goal post. 

Rattled by this goal, Spain committed the numbers forward in search of a goal in the final 10 minutes of the match. However, the Indians defended with all their heart, as experienced Deep Grace Ekka, Nikki Pradhan and Sushila Chanu kept the host's attack in check while the forwards pushed for a third goal. The opportunity came in the 58th minute when Udita showed patience coupled with good dribbling skills to score, thus ending India's campaign with a stunning 3-0 victory. 

The Indian women’s hockey team will be seen in action next at the Asian Games in Hangzhou,  China, from September 23 to October 8.


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