• South Africa, who were already out of contention, equalised thrice in the match
  • Vandana Katariya’s third goal in the fourth quarter gave India a 4-3 lead which they held on to
  • India’s place in the quarter-final will be confirmed if Ireland lose later in the day to Great Britain

Vandana Katariya scored a hat-trick as India women’s hockey team put themselves in the quarter-finals position after beating South Africa 4-3 in their final group game at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. South Africa, who had no chance to go through regardless of the match result, equalised thrice but India defended the one goal they had in the end thanks to Vandana’s third goal from a penalty corner in the fourth quarter.

Vandana scored in the fourth, 17th and 49th minutes while Nehal Goyal scored in the 32nd minute. India had more possession but struggled to contain South Africa whenever they went on the counter. South Africa, who end the tournament with losses in all the matches they played in the group stage, equalised through Tarryn Glasby (15th), skipper Erin Hunter (30th) and Marizen Marais (39th).

India are now on six points, thus leaping ahead of Ireland into fourth place in the group. India’s goal difference, however, -7 as opposed to Ireland’s -5 and the latter play defending champions Great Britain later in the day. A win or draw for Ireland in that match would knock India out while a win for Great Britain would see India go through.

India’s chances to make it to the quarter-finals became slim after they suffered defeats in their first three games. However, a 1-0 win against Ireland in their previous game helped them get back in the race. This will be the first time that India will make it to the knockouts of the Olympics in women’s hockey.

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