Hockey Women’s World Cup: Ireland beat India in shootout to reach semi-finals

Hockey Women’s World Cup: Ireland beat India in shootout to reach semi-finals

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Irish duo Nicola Evans and Katie Mullan celebrate after the dramatic shootout win over India
2018 Hockey Women’s World Cup
Venue: Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London Dates: 21 July-5 August
Coverage: Score updates and match report on BBC Sport website

Ireland beat India 3-1 in a thrilling shoot-out to reach hockey’s World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

After a tight, edgy game finished 0-0, Ireland keeper Ayeisha McFerran made a string of fine saves in the shootout.

Both sides missed their opening two chances, but Roisin Upton put the Irish ahead with Ali Meeke and Chloe Watkins also converting for an historic win.

Ireland, who have been the surprise package of the tournament, will play Spain in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Ali Meeke celebrates her cool finish in Ireland’s shootout win over India

With so much at stake, both teams struggled with the weight of expectancy and the first half was a cagey affair with only one shot apiece with half a dozen circle penetrations each.

Both teams were well set up defensively but lacked creativity.

There was a good tempo to Ireland’s play but they failed to make the passes stick up front or produce the quality pass to unlock the Indians’ rearguard.

Chloe Watkins impressed and drew a number of fouls, while one rash challenge on Nicola Evans resulted in Neha Goyal receiving a green card and two minutes in the sin-bin.

Towards the end of the second quarter, Anna O’Flanagan claimed she was pushed in the back but her appeals for a penalty corner were waved away.

The tempo dipped considerably in the second half but McFerran spread herself superbly to smother Rani’s shot in the fourth quarter.

A penalty shootout looked inevitable from a long way out and McFerran’s quick feet and smart blocks denied Rani, Monika and Navjot Kaur to seal a famous win for the Irish.

What they said

Ireland player Chloe Watkins, speaking to BT Sport: “We knew we have the best goalkeeper in the game and would keep making saves. She kept blocking and blocking and we knew she would do it.”

“It ended up being a very tight game. India played really well, all credit to them, they had a great tournament but when it came down to it we were confident”.

Ireland coach Graham Shaw, speaking to BT Sport: “It’s incredible, I’m so proud. To come in here as the second-lowest ranked team and to be in the top four, it’s a dream come true.

“Sometimes these are games are not about performing but their attitude, attention to detail and their preparation, they are an incredible group of people. I mean even today, the discipline to pull out that performance and get a result.

“To anyone watching at home who plays sport, never give up. Dedicate your life to it because dreams can come true. We are a living example of it now.”

Sally Walton, former GB international on 5Live Sports Extra: “You can argue that, on the balance of play, Ireland did deserve to win that game”.

“They did not win a single penalty corner in that game, which is something they will have to look at for the semi-final. But Ireland into the semi-final of a World Cup, having not been to a World Cup in 16 years, is some achievement.”

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