Ordos, China: India blew away a 2-0 lead as Japan scored a controversial golden goal in extra time off a penalty stroke and snatched the bronze medal in the Asian Women's Champions Trophy on Saturday.
India scored twice by the 28th minute but the Japanese capitalised on Indian errors in the second half to not only equalise but score a golden goal through Ai Murakami to destroy India's dreams of going back home with at least a bronze medal.
India scored through Vandana Katariya (7th) and Rani Rampal (28th), while Japan's scorers were Rika Komazawa (52nd), Kaori Fujio (63rd) and Ai Murakami (76th).
Japan had earned a penalty corner in the 76th minute, which was saved by an Indian defender's stick. However, the umpire pointed for a stroke claiming that the ball had hit the defender. And even though the Indians protested, the stroke stayed.
Unlike, the matches earlier in the group stage, India looked more in control as they moved the ball with confidence.
Asunta Lakra once again kept the forwards fed with passes on both the flanks and through the middle.
India took advantage of Japan's errors in the first half as they made inroads through the middle and used both the flanks effectively.
In the 7th minute, Vandana Katariyan's field attempt sped past the Japanese goalkeeper, who was caught off the line for India to take the lead.
India wasted the first penalty corner as the push wasn't effective enough. But they managed to increase the lead in the 28th minute off the second penalty corner when Rani scored.
Japan, meanwhile, were wilting in the midfield as India pushed forward. At the break, India led 2-0.
Throwing more players upfront, Japan started looking to cut the scores. India still had more of the ball but they were reluctant to release the ball fast enough and gave away counter-attacks in the midfield.
Japan earned their third penalty corner off a counter-attack and Rika Komazawa pushed for goal. With the scores at 1-2, Japan increased the pressure.
India, instead of playing the ball around the flanks, got bogged down in the middle and Japan took more of possession.
When only seven minutes were left, a hard hit from outside the circle was deflected into the Indian goal by Kaori Fujio.
At 2-2, the Indians looked deflated.
In the extra time of seven and a half minutes each, Japan had their fourth penalty corner in the 76th minute and the shot hit an Indian defender's stick but the umpire Liu Xiaoying pointed for a stroke claiming that the ball had hit the defender.
Interestingly, the Japanese players were running to the corner for a long corner when the umpire blew for a stroke against India.
The Indian players protested and even after both the umpires consulted, the stroke stayed.
Yogita Bali, the Indian goalkeeper went the right way but Ai Murakami's push had enough power to beat the keeper.
Indian coach CR Kumar was disappointed but said that the umpiring was poor in the match.
"I cannot put everything on umpiring. We need to improve upon our fitness and play more high-intensity matches to be able to compete at the top level," he said.