Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Aug 12 : The Indian women's hockey team suffered a 0-3 loss to the USA in their penultimate group game at the Rio Olympics here.
In a tepid first quarter, USA and India played out a slug fest in the midfield, both reliant on long balls for circle penetrations into the others territory.
USA took the lead in the 14th minute, with virtually the first real opportunity of the match via Kathleen Bam to take the lead.
India were the team who had the ball in the net first in the second quarter, Rani dribbling and twisting away brilliantly from multiple US defenders in the circle, before unleashing a reverse into the goal.
The referee though deemed it unlawful and a closer inspection would show that the final touch had come off Preeti Dubey's shoulder, an illegal deflection that denied them the equaliser.
The USA soon started exerting their influence on the game more effectively and had the first of two successive PCs of the game in the 20th minute, denied though by effective rushing from India's defensive battery.
Their third, would be blocked away by Namita Toppo on the goal line, a save that would take the teams into half time separated by the single goal.
USA came out stronger in the second half and had their fourth PC - the first of the second half - within the first minute.
Katherine Reinprecht's attempt though bounced off a USA stick, to land safely and out of bounds, leaving India with some breathing space and the opportunity to settle in the game.
The game eventually turned into a smart midfield battle and soon India's use of the flanks came to the fore.
Rani was influencing the game for the Eves, controlling possession and space on every Indian attack. The smart movement across both flanks would cause the US problems, but the circle penetrations would amount to nothing, as they successfully pushed away the attacks, denying India the conversions.
They soon had their second goal, a solo effort, effectively a counter attack after the ball turned over at the edge of the US circle.
Bam ran with the ball towards the Indian circle and cut back to shoot between Savita's pads to double her tally for the game.
India attacked strongly in the final quarter and Vandana Katariya almost single-handedly fashioned a chance out of nothing, twisting away from her marker inside the circle before unleashing a reverse hit that went wide of the mark.
At the other end, Savita pulled off a smart save to deny Bam a hat-trick. A superbly worked counter gave the US their third goal in the 52nd minute, Melissa Gonzalez the scorer, after a sweeping one touch move from the right gave her an open shot at goal, with only Savita to beat.
The US would take their PC count into double digits for the match, but, India, in a vast improvement from their previous game, would defend stoutly, to ensure there would be no goals from them.
The USA took the win 3-0. India will play their last group encounter against Argentina on Saturday..