India qualified for the final of the Jharkhand Women's Asian Champions Trophy with a 3-0 win over Korea in Ranchi on Saturday.
In the final, Janneke Schopman's team will face Japan in a repeat of the Hangzhou Asian Games bronze medal match, which India had won 2-1.
In this semifinal against Korea, India were in charge of proceedings right from the off, with their high pressing and intensity, which Schopman demands.
The opener came courtesy a sensational team move that began from Udita Duhan at the back. She exchanged passes with Navneet Kaur as she charged forward, and then played a superb pace to Salima Tete in the circle, for an unerring finish through the legs of the Korean goalkeeper.
The lead was doubled early in the second quarter, through Vaishnavi Phalke. She injected a penalty corner, and after Deep Grace Ekka's flick was saved, Vaishnavi was on hand to pounce on the rebound and lift it over the goalkeeper to put India in command. It was a great moment for Vaishnavi, who was only a stand-by player in India's squad for this tournament, and had to be brought in for this game to replace the concussed Sonika in the squad.
Vaishnavi could've scored her second of the game early in the second half, after fantastic play from Lalremsiami down the right flank. However, the cut-back went right through Vaishnavi's feet, as she swung at thin air.
The Koreans did provide more of an attacking threat in the second half, but Udita and the rest of the Indian rearguard managed to be in the right place at the right time to thwart the opposition at the beginning of the second half. The hosts also were successful in defending a couple of penalty corners, with Deep Grace playing her first rusher's role to perfection.
India could've put the game to bed midway through the second half, but the Korean goalkeeper came up with a brilliant double save to deny Deepika's dragflick and then Navneet's reverse strike off the rebound.
However, the hosts still had to deal with Korean pressure through the second half, even as their technique and skills were letting them down in the offensive half. A variety of errors, including misdirected passes and missed traps ensured that India weren't able to sustain any pressure as an attacking force in the second half.
Korean midfielder Su-ji Choi picked up a yellow card with ten minutes to go in the game, and that could have enabled India to calm proceedings down with an extra player in their ranks. However, that wasn't to be as in quick succession, Jyoti and Vandana Katariya both picked up yellow cards, which meant India had to defend their two-goal lead at the end with a player disadvantage.
Korea won a penalty corner as well, but Savita Punia came up with an important save to keep India's two-goal cushion intact, and with that, Schopman's side also saw off the last of the Koreans' threat for the evening.
The Koreans will play China in the third-place playoff on Sunday evening, before India's title clash against Japan.
You can relive the action, as it happened, below.
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