Tokyo: World No 9> India women's hockey team created history on Monday by beating three-time champions Australia 1-0 to reach the Olympic Games semi-finals for the first time.
This came after India men's team defeated Great Britain on Sunday to enter the Olympic semi-finals following a 49-year gap.
Coming into the match, the odds were totally against India as world No 2 Australia, a mighty unbeaten opponent, awaited them in the last eight round.
But the Indians, determined to prove a point, produced a strong and brave performance to eke out the narrow win over the Hockeyroos.
Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur rose to the occasion when it mattered and converted India's lone penalty corner in the 22nd minute to surprise the Australians.
India's best performance in the Olympics came way back in the 1980 Moscow Games where they finished fourth out of six teams.
In that edition of the Games, women's hockey made its debut in the Olympics and the sport was played in a round-robin format with top two teams qualifying for the final.
THESE GIRLS HAVE DONE IT! THEY HAVE DONE THE UNTHINKABLE! 🙌
- Sakshi Malik (@SakshiMalik) August 2, 2021
If you thought Sunday was good then our women have just gone and made Monday exceptional with a performance for the ages! First semifinal appearance in an Olympic Games and that's how you do it - with a big, solid fight. Had us glued throughout. #TeamIndia #Tokyo2020
- Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) August 2, 2021
Congrats to the Indian women's hockey team. Incredible to beat mighty Australia 1-0 in the QF of the Olympics. So proud. Just for perspective, we lost 1-6 to Australia in Rio 2016. But today, our Indian women were sublime. Brave warriors!! #OLYMPICS #HOCKEY
- Viren Rasquinha (@virenrasquinha) August 2, 2021
The Rani Rampal-led side will play Argentina in the semi-final on Wednesday.
The Indians started slow off the blocks but grew in confidence as the match progressed.
Australia had the first shot at the goal but India goalkeeper Savita did just enough to deny Amrosia Malone, whose slap shot from inside the circle hit the post.
The Indians thereafter adopted an aggressive approach and caught the Australian defence off guard quite a few times.
India's pace and determination seemed to have surprised the Australians as they panicked while defending and were lucky not to have conceded a goal in the first quarter.
In the ninth minute, skipper Rani Rampal's deflection from a Vandana Katariya shot hit the back post as Australia survived.
A minute later, Broke Peris' shot from top of the circle just went wide past a fully stretched Savita.
The Indians created another chance in the first quarter but an alert Australian goalkeeper Rachael Lynch came out of her line to deny Sharmila Devi from a one-on-one situation.
The Australians pressed hard in the second quarter and secured their first penalty corner in the 20th minute which was defended brilliantly by India.
Minutes later, India secured their first penalty corner and Gurjit, who had a disappointing outing so far in the tournament, rose to the occasion and converted the chance with a low flick to stun the Australians.
The Indians were bold and courageous while defending as minutes later, Deep Grace Ekka got a vital stick to keep out Emily Chalker's strong hit from close range.
Down by a goal, the Australians attacked with numbers after the change of ends and Mariah Williams came close to restoring parity but Savita came in between.
Australia secured three back-back-to-back penalty corners soon but the Indian defence, led by Savita and Deep Grace Ekka, stood like a rock in front of the goal.
Thereafter, the play was mostly inside the Indian circle as Australia pressed hard but the Indians managed to soak up the pressure with some brave defending, not afraid to put their bodies on line.
In the final eight minutes of the game, the pressure was relentless on the Indians as Australia secured four more penalty corners but failed to breach the willpower of the Indian defence.
With PTI inputs