Captain Rani Rampal broke out of jail and rescued India from a catastrophic defeat on goal's aggregate from a lowly ranked USA in the two-legged Olympic qualifier on Saturday night. Rani just did enough -- score a goal in the dying minutes -- and just about maintain the one goal difference 6-5 at Bhubaneshwar's Kalinga Stadium to book Indian team's ticket for next year's Olympics Games. India had to maintain a one-goal aggregate difference to go through which they finally did after the rampant USA playing some supremely high tempo game against India in the 2nd leg, shocked the host 4-0 at half time and won the 2nd leg 4-1.
USA had come down hard at India from the very word go at a supremely high tempo to completely rattle the hosts. There was hardly any incisive play by India into the USA half while the visitors had constantly made inroads in front of the India goal and had made four big chances count. Amanda Magadan scored twice while Kathleen Shakey and Alyssa Parker found a goal each to put USA in 4-0 lead over India in the second leg and level the proceedings at 5-5 on aggregate.
Amanda Magadan scored her second of the evening and USA's fourth to level with India on aggregate. A stunning hit from the USA player as she drilled one into the goal while on backfoot. India was completely and the Kalinga crowd was stunned! Minutes before, some terrible defending from India saw Alyssa Parker making it 3-0 for USA. Sharkey turned around after Rani Rampal held her off well and passed off to Grega on the right, who sent the ball across for Parker to tap it in. It was a dreadful situation for India as they had just one goal advantage in the aggregate. In the first half, USA pressed hard and not let India dictate terms at all. Hosts were unable to move the ball up fast enough and USA grabbed the opportunities brilliantly.
Earlier, Kathleen Sharkey took a fabulous turn to lose her marker and slotted the ball hard home. India was under intense pressure from a rampant USA from side right. Another dangerous move from the USA team and India just about managed to avert the danger. USA drew first blood from a brilliant penalty corner routine from Amanda Magadan who gave it a clinical finish. Magadan took the corner and a little flick and shot came to the far corner, where she slid and hit the ball home.