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Britain women join Netherlands, India, Argentina in Olympic semis

Britain beat Spain in a penalty shootout to secure the last semifinal spot in the women’s Olympic hockey tournament on Monday, joining India, Argentina and the Netherlands in the last four.

After a tense 2-2 draw in regular time, Britain won the game by scoring two shootout goals, while Spain missed four times thanks to a superb performance by Britain’s veteran goalie Madeleine Hinch.

In the semifinals, Britain will play the Netherlands, who defeated New Zealand 3-0 thanks to goals by Lidewij Welten, Frederique Matla and Lauren Stam.

India pulled off a stunning 1-0 victory over Australia, and will face Argentina in the semifinals on Wednesday after the South Americans got past the quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 with a 3-0 win over Germany.

Gurjit Kaur scored India’s winning goal from a first-half penalty corner, beating Australia goalie Rachael Lynch who had kept a clean sheet in the previous four matches.

Australia were unable to equalise in the second half despite ramping up the pressure and winning a number of penalty corners.

“It’s a dream come true,” India goalkeeper Savita said, struggling for words.

Savita, who goes by one name, pulled the team through some of the hardest moments of the match with nine saves.

Argentina’s women team have never won an Olympic hockey gold medal, but clinched silver at the 2012 London Games and the 2000 Sydney Games, the latter being where they earned the nickname Las Leonas, or lionesses.

Las Leonas were elated after beating Germany, with some players crying as they celebrated around goalie Belen Succi, who was on the team that was knocked out of the quarterfinals in 2016 by the Netherlands.

“We have to keep fighting,” Argentina’s Maria Victoria Granatto said. “We are going to play one of the most important games of our lives.”

Argentina stepped up the pace against their opponents from the start, with their skilful and fast attackers posing a threat to the Germans who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics.

Their effort paid dividends shortly before halftime when a hard pass from Rocio Sanchez Moccia crossed in front of the goal to reach Agustina Albertarrio, who deflected the ball with her stick behind the German goalie.

The game had barely restarted when Maria Victoria Granatto doubled the lead off a penalty corner just before halftime.

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After the break, the Germans were unable to break down their opponent’s defence. Argentina sealed the win in the 52th minute when Valentina Raposo Ruiz scored the third goal through another penalty corner.

“The first goal was the knockout for us because then they get their chests up and they get better and better,” said veteran Franzisca Hauke, who was playing her last match for Germany.

“I’m really disappointed and sad that it’s the end of my journey,” a tearful Hauke added.

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