Incheon: The Indian women's hockey team put on a spectacular performance to defeat Japan 2-1 and claim the bronze medal at the 17th Asian Games here Wednesday.
In a hard-fought playoff, India took an early lead through a successful penalty corner conversion by Jaspreet Kaur in the 23rd minute, following a dry first quarter at the Soenhak Hockey Stadium.
Japan squeezed in their first goal from Shibata Akane's stick in the 41st minute to level the score at 1-1.
India's craving for more goals bore fruit when Vandana Katariya, in the very next minute, gave a simple finish to a non-possessed ball in the 42nd minute to once again give the 1982 New Delhi champions the lead.
The last quarter was a challenging session as both teams played brilliantly but struggled to sneak in goals.
Japan tried to create several opportunities but India goalkeeper Savita and the defence held the fort and did not allow them to convert.
“The team played exceptionally well as per the strategies and I am extremely happy that we have finished with a bronze. The overall performance of the team was much better this time as compared to the Commonwealth Games,” India coach Neil Hawgood said.
Praising the team, captain Ritu Rani said: “I am really happy with the way the girls played. It is through the collective efforts of the whole team that we have won the bronze. I encourage the girls and hope the team keeps up the positive spirit so that we can show a better performance hereon.”
India had won the gold in New Delhi in 1982, the silver in Bangkok in 1998 and bronzes at Seoul in 1986 and at Doha in 2006.
The team will return home Friday.