Italy wins bronze, Canada finishes 5th in the Oly qualifiers



Italy wins bronze, Canada finishes 5th in the Oly qualifiersNew Delhi: Italy and Canada notched up a contrasting victories over Ukraine and Poland respectively to finish their campaign at the London Olympic women`s hockey qualifiers in the third and fifth positions respectively at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Saturday.

In the 3rd-4th classification match, 19th ranked Italy women`s team eked out a 2-1 victory over lower-ranked Ukraine to win the bronze medal, while 20th ranked Canada thrashed Poland, ranked 28th, 3-0 for the fifth place here.

Italy had a good run in the tournament with two draws and two wins before they were outdone by India 1-0 in the crucial final line-up decider last night. However, they ensured that there were no hiccups today as they craved out a fine victory after a tough tussle.

Ukraine, who had held India surprisingly to a 1-1 draw in their campaign opener, denied Italy a goal for most part of the first half. After their last night match against India, Italy took time to get into the groove but once getting into rhythm they earned two penalty corners but wasted them.

Finally it was a penalty conversion by Alessia Doriana Padalino (34th) in the dying moments of the first half that allowed Italy to go into the break with a 1-0 lead. Alessia scored with a direct hit, giving no chance to rival goalie.

In the second half, Ukraine brought up the equaliser in the 42nd minute when Bohdana Sadova flicked one home. They could have gone into the lead but Italian goalkeeper Roberta Lilliu came up with some fine saves to deny them.

With both the teams fighting tooth and nail, the match headed for a draw but Alessia once again came back to break the deadlock as she made good use of a pass from Celina Traverso and slotted home with a reverse hit from inside D.

With that goal Alessia overtook South African Dirkie Chamberlain at the top of the Goal Scorers list with eight goals in the competition.

With just a couple of seconds to go for the final hooter, Ukraine got an opportunity to pull things back when they were awarded a penalty corner but they failed to materialise it.

However, they appealed for a video referrel which the umpires denied as they had to settle for a fourth place finish.

"We are happy with what we have achieved in this tournament but we had our chances to qualify for the Olympics. Luck was not with us yesterday but that is sport," Italy captain Chiara Tiddi said.

In the first match of the day, Canada dominated the proceeding as they played aggressive hockey while Poland employed a defensive tactics.

Canada went into the lead in the 18th minute when Thea Culley collected a Kate Thompson pass inside the D and nudged it home.

Canada earned two penalty corners in the 23rd and 32nd minute but they squandered both. In the first one, Poland defence was up for the job as they averted two consecutive hits, while in the second one Stephaine Jameson hit wide.

However, in the 40th minute, Canada built up an attack from the left flank with Brienna Stairs completing the goal on a second attempt with Thea Culley?s assist.

Five minutes later, Canada gained another short corner and this time Stephanie didn?t commit any mistake as she got into good position after getting a pass from skipper Katie Baker and sent it home as the Poland defence was caught napping. With this defeat, Poland, the lowest ranked team inthe competition, finished the round-robin with five straight losses.

In the last five minutes, Poland earned three penalty corners but they failed to cash in on.

"We finished fifth and we have to take it. Of course we wanted to qualify but now we have to reflect on things that went wrong and work on our game for future," said Stephanie, who recently became the most capped player for Canada women`s team.

PTI