Olympics-Hockey-Netherlands women join India, Argentina in semis

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Hockey – Women – Quarterfinal – Australia v India – Oi Hockey Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 2, 2021. Players of India celebrate after winning their match. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

TOKYO (Reuters) -The Netherlands beat New Zealand 3-0 on Monday to qualify for the semi-finals of the women’s Olympic hockey tournament, joining India and Argentina in the last four.

Lidewij Welten, Frederique Matla and Lauren Stam scored for the Dutch, the 2016 silver medallists who are now set for a showdown against the winners of the match between Spain and Britain.

India pulled off a stunning 1-0 victory over Australia, and will face Argentina in the semi-finals on Wednesday after the South Americans got past the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012 with a 3-0 win over Germany.

Gurjit Kaur scored India’s winning goal from a first-half penalty corner, beating Australia goalie Rachael Lynch who had kept a clean sheet in the previous four matches.

Australia were unable to equalise in the second half despite ramping up the pressure and winning a number of penalty corners.

“It’s a dream come true,” India goalkeeper Savita said, struggling for words.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Hockey – Women – Quarterfinal – Australia v India – Oi Hockey Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 2, 2021. Players of India wave to their supporters in the stands after winning their match. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Savita, who goes by one name, pulled the team through some of the hardest moments of the match with nine saves.

Argentina’s women team have never won an Olympic hockey gold medal, but clinched silver at the 2012 London Games and the 2000 Sydney Games, the latter being where they earned the nickname Las Leonas, or lionesses.

Las Leonas were elated after beating Germany, with some players crying as they celebrated around goalie Belen Succi, who was on the team that was knocked out of the quarter-finals in 2016 by the Netherlands.

“We have to keep fighting,” Argentina’s Maria Victoria Granatto said. “We are going to play one of the most important games of our lives.”

Argentina stepped up the pace against their opponents from the start, with their skilful and fast attackers posing a threat to the Germans who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics.

Their effort paid dividends shortly before halftime when a hard pass from Rocio Sanchez Moccia crossed in front of the goal to reach Agustina Albertarrio, who deflected the ball with her stick behind the German goalie.

The game had barely restarted when Maria Victoria Granatto doubled the lead off a penalty corner just before halftime.

After the break, the Germans were unable to break down their opponent’s defence. Argentina sealed the win in the 52th minute when Valentina Raposo Ruiz scored the third goal through another penalty corner.

“The first goal was the knockout for us because then they get their chests up and they get better and better,” said veteran Franzisca Hauke, who was playing her last match for Germany.

“I’m really disappointed and sad that it’s the end of my journey,” a tearful Hauke added.

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