|February 25th, 2012|
|17||3rd-4th||5:30pm||ITA - UKR||2 - 1 (1 - 0)||Final|
Italy had an excellent tournament so far and were one goal away from qualifying for the Final, only losing to India 1-0 with a late goal. Ukraine stunned India on opening day with a draw (1-1) then beat Canada (5-2) to earn a berth in this match for 3rd-4th, which will put them at least one notch higher than their entry ranking of 5th.
Round-robin match between these two teams was narrowly won by Italy 2-1.
Beginning of match was animated, Ukraine playing forward with a lot of purpose and pushing Italy on their heels. After the hard match played late last night against India, it took Italy nearly twenty minutes to find some momentum and take control of play. They then forced two penalty-corners in a row but could not generate much danger for Alvina BUDONNA in the Ukrainian goal.
Ukraine has a chance on a scramble in the circle in the last ten minutes of play, but were denied by a miraculous save by Roberta LILLIU in the Italian goal. They kept pushing but the last chance of the period was for Italy at the other end on a last minute penalty-corner scored by Alessia PADALINO with her trademark direct shot.
Ukraine came back into the game early in second period, with a penalty-corner of their own scored by Bohdana SADOVA. They could have increased their tally in the following minutes but were denied once again by a series of exceptional saves by the Italian keeper. The goal woke-up the Italian team and they promptly regain control of play to threaten the Ukrainian circle. They had two chances on penalty-corners, but the Ukrainian defense had by now figured out PADALINO’s shot and defended well.
Clock was ticking down and extra-time was not an appealing to teams playing their sixth match in eight days. Italy pushed for a decision and it came in the 67th minute, once by Alessia PADALINO, left alone in the middle of the circle and managing to bat in goal a bouncing ball that had eluded a defender. With this goal, PADALINO overtook South African Dirkie CHAMBERLAIN at the top of the Goal Scorers list with 8 goals in the competition.
Ukraine threw everything they had left in the last few minutes of play to tie the score and were unlucky to hit the post, but managed to force a penalty-corner in the dying second of the match! Italy called upon the video-umpire to review the penalty-corner call, but it stood for a dramatic last chance attempt. It was saved by the defense and Italy celebrated winning the bronze medals of this Hero FIH Road to London tournament with the narrowest of margin (2-1).
Player of the Match was Valentina BRACONI BRISIGELLI of Italy.