Vandana Kataria (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) achieved a rare feat by becoming the first Indian woman hockey player to score a hat-trick in the Olympics.
Vandana Kataria’s hat-trick inspired the Indian women to a 4-3 win over South Africa in its final group stage game.
The side made it to the quarterfinals after Ireland lost to Great Britain later in the day. Rani’s side will face Pool B winner Australia in the last eight.
This is the first time the Indian women have qualified for the quarterfinals at the Olympics.
The Indians, needing a win to keep alive their hopes of making a maiden appearance in the knockouts, called the shots in the early phase.
They had two penalty corners in the opening two minutes, both via video referrals.
The referrals caused lengthy stoppages of play and only a minute and 18 seconds of play was registered in the first 10 minutes.
The stop-start clash finally got underway when
In the fourth minute, Vandana put India in front. However, who scored a goal in the fourth minute. The Indians dominated possession, not allowing South Africa any circle penetrations in the opening minutes. the Proteas grabbed the opportunity and equalised in the 14th minute as Tarryn Glasby converted Taryn Mallett’s long pass.
Three minutes later, India went ahead again when Vandana diverted Deep Grace Ekka’s drag-flick into the net. However, South Africa struck back with less than 30 seconds left in the second quarter, as captain Erin Hunter got on the scoresheet. The see-saw battle continued and there was no separating the two sides at the interval.
India made it 3-2 within two minutes of the third quarter as Neha got into the scoring act. It was a penalty corner variation that led to the goal as skipper Rani Rampal flicked the ball goalwards and Neha guided it past the goalkeeper.
South Africa scored in the last minute of the quarter through Marizen Marais showed exemplary skill, cut past two Indian defenders and held her composure to slot home past goalkeeper Savita Punia.
The final 15 minutes proved crucial as Sjoerd Marijne’s side took the lead for the fourth, and final time, as Vandana tapped home Gurjit Kaur’s drag-flick off a penalty corner.
Vandana, 29, became the first Indian woman to score a hat-trick at the Olympic Games.
South Africa was awarded a penalty corner in the last minute of play but the Indians, who enjoyed remarkable success with video referrals, got the decision reversed and celebrated the win.