Indian hockey was riding the crest of a wave on Monday after the women followed the men into the Olympic semi-finals after one of the Tokyo Games‘ biggest upsets.
There were scenes of jubilation as India held off Australia, fancied to reach the medal matches, to prevail 1-0 in a tight game and reach the last four for the first time in the Eves’ history.
India will now play Argentina for a place in the final, after Las Leonas beat Germany 3-0.
Rosie Malone hit the post in the opening minutes, while Indian captain Rani also thudded the right woodwork from close range in the first quarter.
The game was settled in the second period when Gurjit Kaur netted from a corner strike which pinged through the Hockeyroos’ runners.
Rachael Lynch was relatively untroubled in Australia’s goal, while Savita was forced into nine saves after a superb display.
As with the men’s game, India also had to withstand a late barrage. But Sjoerd Marijne’s side held firm, keeping out Australia’s nine corner chances in all.
“They should be really proud of the game they put on the park and when they got their opportunity they put it in,” Hockeyroo Edina Bone said.
“They didn’t have many, and we were really tight at the back. I thought we were quite good. But that just shows you, you give them a sniff and they’ll take it.”
Earlier, Argentina reached the Olympic semi-finals for the first time since London 2012 as Rio bronze medallists Germany fell short.
While the Hockeyroos – who were also defeated in Rio at the same stages – were left in tears in defeat, the Argentina players were crying tears of joy at the hooter and were deserved winners against Die Danas.
They were in sync from the off and took the lead via an Agustina Albertarrio deflection. They doubled their lead shortly after when Maria Granatto netted from a PC, again via a deflection.
With Germany pressing, Argentina kept them at bay and took the game away with eight minutes left courtesy of a Valentina Ruiz corner strike, fired low and hard.
“We are Argentina and we have a very long story of hockey, and we want to show that every game,” said Granatto, who broke up field to set up Argentina’s third.
“We are in the semifinals. That makes the difference. We are going to play one of the most important games in our life. We are happy to be there.”